Martin van Zeijl on UK nursery Ely (22 ha)

"Four departments minimize risk of cross-contamination"

Not only is the greenhouse at UK nursery Ely divided into four growing areas, but the farm is also equipped with four entrances, four canteens, four changing rooms, and four washrooms. "Each block has its own color in terms of clothing," explains Martin van Zeijl of Bom Group, who supervised the project. "This minimizes the risk of cross-contamination by viruses."

The nursery, 22 hectares in size and part of the UK group Green House Growers under the name Green House Ely, was realized by Bom Group in 2021. The first vegetables were harvested last year. "Now there are cucumbers in the greenhouse. Last year, both tomatoes and cucumbers were grown," Martin says. "The greenhouse is set up so that it is easy to switch depending on market demand and, of course, energy prices."

Extensive thought was given to the energy market when the project was realized. Heat is generated with heat pumps in a nearby reservoir. "The energy for the heat pumps is generated with CHPs," Martin explains. "That energy is also used for the LED lighting in the greenhouses."

The heat pumps can meet the greatest heat demand. The heat from the CHPs also goes into the greenhouse, as does the CO2 released. This full utilization of raw materials and energy is partly why AGR Renewables and Greencoat Capital saw potential in the project.

Grower Kier Petherick of Fenland Farming, who previously ran a farm on this site, adds that this layout was chosen to enable a more sustainable form of growing. "With this, we offer an alternative to importing from the mainland: we can harvest fresh products in a sustainable way, 12 months a year. And it shows what is possible for now and for the future."

Bom Group exhibits on March 16 at FPC Future in Peterborough, UK.

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