29 Jan 2022

New hydroponic farming project in Offaly to create number of new jobs in the county

New hydroponic farming project in Offaly to create 17 jobs

New hydroponic farming project in Offaly to create 17 jobs

SEVENTEEN jobs will be created in a large greenhouse plant on the site of the old Bord na Mona yard at Ballycon, Mountlucas, local Fianna Fail representative, Cllr Eddie Fitzpatrick said this week.

It is hoped that the new venture from Real Leaf Farm, will be in operation by June 2022.

Real Leaf Farm is an Irish agri-tech company developing sustainable hydroponic farming across both Ireland and the UK and it is embarking on a €25m funding round for the Offaly project.

It has already been awarded €1m from the Just Transition Fund.

The company plans to build hydroponic farms in Ireland and the UK, with the first farm in Ballycon.

It recently received planning permission to construct the Ballycon facility, which will include a 10,500sq m greenhouse, attached to the existing Bord na Mona workshop building. Some existing sheds at the site will be demolished.

Cllr Fitzpatrick said Karen Hennessy, chief executive of Real Leaf Farm, stated it was a relief to get the planning permission from Offaly County Council over the line.

Ms Hennessy has previously worked with Glanbia as its head of corporate development nutritionals.

According to its website, Real Leaf Farm is involved in what it calls “a farming (r)evolution”.

“Revolution because hydroponics uses three simple ingredients to produce densely nutritious leaves all year round. Natural light from the sun, local water and elemental nutrients. Evolution because we are taking the best of the past to build the best for the future,” the company says.

“Our deep-water culture system uses significantly less water than soil-based farming and every drop is recycled to produce leafy greens 365 days a year. Our farm uses no herbicides or pesticides, a win-win for our consumers and our land.

“This is Ireland’s first 100% Hydroponic farm. This is smart farming for a sustainable planet.”

They say it is their mission to grow fresh, nutritious leafy greens for the local food market using sustainable hydroponic farming methods that have low environmental impact.

“The elimination of herbicides and pesticides not only makes us a provider of clean, natural, food products but is better for our environment, leaving no residues behind.”

Through smart farming and advanced growing technology they say they are using less energy, land and water, eliminating the use of pesticides or herbicides, delivering fresher, more natural food, upskilling and re-energising local workers to provide employment in local communities and are able to “leave no trace”.

Their range includes Batavia, Frisee, Lollo Rossa, Oak Leaf, Buttercrunch and Little gem leaf varieties that will be delivered all year round.

Green Leaf say they are reducing food miles. “Factory farming, deforestation, food transportation, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil erosion are affecting our world and our lives. As more and more people migrate to urban areas, there is an increasing distance between the food people eat and where the food is grown.

“The increase in food miles and food transportation contributes further negative environmental impacts. Growing our food closer to our markets dramatically reduces use of fossil fuels, improves the shelf life of our range and reduces food waste.”
A Real Leaf Farm has low environmental impact, reduced use of fossil fuels, is locally produced food and results in reduced food waste, the company says.

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