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Britain's first soil-free urban farm to be built in Beckton

PUBLISHED: 10:59 17 April 2015 | UPDATED: 12:37 17 April 2015

The indoor farm in Beckton will look like this one currently operating in the Netherlands

The indoor farm in Beckton will look like this one currently operating in the Netherlands

Katie Chodosh

The nation's first commercial aquaponic urban farm is set to open in a Beckton warehouse.

The company behind the new farm, GrowUp Urban Farms, was granted permission to start building after receiving planning approval from Newham Council last week.

It will use a combination of aquaculture – fish farming – and hydroponic, or soil-free, technology to produce more than 20,000kg of salad and herbs and 4,000kg of fish each year.

Chief executive and co-founder Kate Hofman said the farm will be “a flagship for innovative urban farming”.

It will enable salad and herbs to be grown year-round using specialist horticultural LED lighting, as well as produce tilapia, a fish used in many different cuisines.

The majority of produce will be sold to restaurants in east London, while an integrated visitor centre will allow people to learn more about urban farming.

Eight jobs will be created by the farm, with three positions specifically for young local people who have struggled academically.

It will be funded by money from InnovateUK through their Agri-Tech Catalyst fund and Ignite Social Enterprise.

Work on the project is set to begin soon, with the first harvests predicted for September.

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