Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Building Sought to Get Urban Farm off the Ground

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Building Sought to Get Urban Farm off the Ground

Article excerpt


AYOUNG entrepreneur is searching for an abandoned building in Newcastle that he can convert into an urban farm.

Ross Davies is planning to grow Asian vegetables and herbs in the city, in an attempt to change the flavours of food in Newcastle while reducing the distance it travels before it reaches customers' plates.

The 29-year-old wants to set up a vertical farm in Newcastle and initially plans to grow a variety of water spinach called Kang Kong. The plant is not used much in the UK because the high cost to transport it to Europe means it is expensive to buy.

By sourcing seeds from Asia and growing them in the North East, Mr Davies plans to make the vegetable a more common feature in restaurants and homes.

Mr Davies has now been named as one of the country's top young innovators by the Prince's Trust, which has provided him with a grant to get Grown Urban off the ground. The organisation has provided him with PS5,000 for the business and will pay him the living wage for six months. He is also looking to receive additional funding to allow him to scale up the business.

With PS140,000 Mr Davies believes he can grow the business to the point where he can open an additional farm after a year, and a further three during the following 12 months. The expansion would target other busy urban areas, such as Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, Brighton, and Birmingham.

He said: "The first thing I am starting to grow is Kang Kong, which is a water spinach grown in Thailand. It has to be transported up to China, then it has to go to Amsterdam, then London, then it gets distributed from there. There are thousands of miles it has to travel. It can take 20 days to get to the end consumer but I will be growing it within a 100-mile radius of where it is delivered. …

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