Event: Exhibit with @Bristol

It was a real pleasure to work with the At Bristol science centre on our exhibit showcasing the future of food. This ran from the 7th to the 21st of August, with the whole team heading down for an engagement day on the 16th of August.

It was brilliant to find so many members of the public intrigued by vertical farming methods and ready to try some of our tasty microgreens!

Opportunities

There will be many further opportunities to engage with LettUs Grow over Summer 2017, as we make our steady progress towards our first product launch. 

Building on the fantastic responses we received from our survey in January, we will be conducting further interviews and surveys over the Summer to clarify all your vitally important input. These will help drive the size and features of our whole product range.

As summer progresses, we will sit down with early adopters and demonstrate our improved prototypes of the time. This will inform further development, before testing our next-generation product this Autumn.

Finally, we are always on the lookout for more advisors, supporters, and opportunities. So please feel free to get in touch, sign-up to our quarterly newsletter, email us any queries through the below contact form, or just come for a chat in Bristol.  

Our Mission: LettUs Grow & Urban Farming

At LettUs Grow we are proud to be a mission-driven commercial company. Our goal is to have a net positive social and environmental impact, whilst simultaneously building a growing, commercially sustainable company. We have distilled this mission down to the following simple statement:

Our mission is to reduce the waste and carbon footprint of fresh produce, by empowering anyone to grow delicious food near its point of consumption.

But why?

Forecasts from the Food & Agriculture organisation of the UN (FAO) predict that humanity must double food production to feed 9 billion people by 2050. All with 25% less farmland, degraded topsoil, and an unstable climate. Currently, the majority of our “fresh” produce is imported out of season, often travelling hundreds of miles to reach our plates, at the expense of our planet and palate. We believe that something must change.

In recent years, urban agriculture companies have attempted to address these issues with localised production methods such as vertical farming, near to and within cities. This shortens the supply chain to provide fresher produce with a reduced environmental impact. However, vertical farmers worldwide are struggling to reach cost parity with traditional open-field agriculture due to high set-up and operational costs. To service the mass market, vertical farming must become either more efficient, or more profitable.

Significant advances have been made through energy efficient LED lighting and data-driven farm management, but moisture delivery, one of the key requirements for plant growth, has not received such attention. Currently, in conventional hydroponic systems, roots are submerged and saturated in a solution of water and nutrients. This restricts the access of roots to oxygen, limiting plant growth rate, and therefore yield.

Vertical farming faces the same economic and environmental challenge as the renewable energy market once faced, of cost parity. Once this is met, market forces will drive the environmental benefits as positive impact scales with growth. Technology that meets this challenge will revolutionise food production as we know it.

LettUs Grow

LettUs Grow have developed technology that brings the benefits of aeroponics, where plants are grown in a nutrient-dense mist, to all farmers. Yield improvements over hydroponics will drive farmers towards profit, vertical farming towards the mass market, and help all of us reduce the waste and carbon footprint of fresh produce; empowering anyone to grow delicious food near its point of consumption.

We hope you join us on this journey. Sign-up here to receive our quarterly newsletter.

Our Vision: LettUs Grow & Urban Farming

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Given the recent very exciting funding news, as founders we would like to reaffirm our vision for LettUs Grow and share some of our planned next steps towards achieving this goal.

Our Vision

The vision for LettUs Grow has always been to be a profitable technology company that allows farmers of all scales, home to factory, bring food production closer to the plate, resulting in fresher produce, with better taste, and less of the waste currently generated from transporting food thousands of miles. This company will have a positive environmental impact whilst also being a commercially sustainable business within the rapidly growing indoor agriculture sector.

We believe that enabling citizens to grow a meaningful amount of food with ease, as locally as possible, will be vital for the health and wellbeing of future generations living in crowded 21st century cities, and our planet.

Simply, we want to help feed the next generation.

To achieve this, LettUs Grow have utilised our expertise in aeroponic growth of crop plants to design unique grow beds for the indoor agriculture industry. LettUs Grow integrate a patent-pending irrigation system with a range of sensors, into a hardware and software solution, all in order to generate the simplest growing experience for you, the end user. 

We are driven to bring people closer to their food, by providing the technology for hyper-local Urban Gardens in the modern community, and larger Urban Farms for supplying the modern city.

Join Us

We hope you are excited as us by this brilliant news and are prepared to join us on this journey.

Over the next few months we will have a wide range of opportunities for you to engage with LettUs Grow. We'll be looking for your input, experiences and opinions - which will inform the full range of LettUs Grow products to be released over the coming years!

Keep an eye out for further blog updates and sign-up to our newsletter for more details.

Announcement: Funding success

We are very excited to announce that LettUs Grow has been awarded a transformative Innovate UK grant to accelerate our development as an agricultural technology company. LettUs Grow design unique aeroponic products that help vertical farmers grow delicious and sustainable fresh produce, 365-days a year, without the complexity of existing systems.

Based in Bristol, the three founders - Ben Crowther, Jack Farmer and Charlie Guy - have been awarded a £55,029 Innovate UK Design Foundations grant to drive LettUs Grow towards a successful first product launch. Following an over-funded crowdfunding campaign, significant prototype development and testing, and recent successes in other national grant schemes, this builds upon an exciting first year of operation for the company.

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LettUs Grow products enable vertical farmers to grow a wide range of crops from seed in a matter of weeks, with tailored irrigation and minimal user input. Managing Director of LettUs Grow, Charlie Guy, explained some of the issues that the company are trying to address:

“Humanity must double food production to feed 9 billion people by 2050. All with 25% less farmland, worse soil, and an unstable climate. Currently, the majority of our “fresh” produce is imported out of season, often travelling hundreds of miles to reach our plates, at the expense of our planet and palate. Something must change.

The trio, who are housed in the University of Bristol’s Centre for Innovation, have partnered with Crux Product Design, an award winning Bristol based design consultancy, to refine their solutions before product launch early in 2018. As a mix of engineering design and biology graduates, the team are accustomed to the principles behind the Design Foundations grant. Applying these to their own business, in partnership with the expertise and experience of Crux, represents an exciting new stage of growth for LettUs Grow.

Crux Product Design represent proven design expertise and have been specifically chosen to collaborate with LettUs Grow for this grant. Crux have amassed over a decade’s worth of experience designing medical products, elite sportswear and consumer goods used by millions worldwide. Their talented team of designers and engineers know what it takes to bring innovative products to market that are both functional and desirable.

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Oliver Needham, lead designer at Crux, says: 

“We are relishing the opportunity to collaborate with an exciting Bristol start-up; working in an area that we are confident is going to continue to grow in relevance and uptake. LettUs Grow have demonstrated the need, consumer desire and technological capability to shake up our food chains. We look forward to working with them to design an end-product that takes vertical farms to the next level.”

If you are interested in finding out more about LettUs Grow, have technical experience with aeroponics or keen to get involved in a local Bristol start-up, then contact Managing Director Charlie Guy. To find out more about their progress and be the first to know about product launch dates sign up to the LettUs Grow mailing list and join their growing community. You can also follow their blog or keep up with their progress on Twitter and Facebook!


Supported by:

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Insight into: Environmental Impact

We are keeping our eyes firmly on LettUs Grow's environmental impact throughout product development, as this is core to our fundamental mission: 

To reduce the waste and carbon footprint of fresh produce by empowering anyone to grow delicious food at its point of consumption.

Lifecycle Analysis

To keep track of our impact we are constantly updating a flexible spreadsheet model that quantifies lifecycle emissions of our different product concepts. This utilises official government figures for embedded carbon to help us design-in materials with a low environmental impact. Our ambition is to also factor in water-use and pollution as key, quantifiable variables within the model, which we will incorporate over summer 2017.

This analysis extends beyond simply tracking our impact and focuses on how LettUs Grow products can promote long-term use, "paying back" the emissions expended in their production. This can be achieved by displacing the carbon/water cost of salad bought at the supermarket with that grown from seed in the kitchen!

"Circular" Design Principles

This leads us onto one of our favourite methodologies within the sustainability movement; the Circular Economy. Popularised by Cradle to Cradle and the Ellen MacArthur Institute, the core aim is to stop materials going "cradle to grave", where old products find their way to land-fill, the environment, or sea.

Designing in Circular principles involves ensuring products can be disassembled, updated, and improved, to extend their product life. Similarly, designing products that are easy to return, disassemble, and reuse or recycle, when you are finished with them. If you're interested in this methodology then we recommend checking out the Ellen MacArthur institute for more information.

Any Suggestions?

But before you do that we'd like your help! We are always looking for materials, electronics, or companies to use within our supply chain that will help us achieve our environmental goals - of a low carbon, waste, and water footprint. So if you are interested in environmental impact, the circular economy, or sustainability, and have suggestions, then please drop us an email and we'd be really interested to chat!