Kilnwick Percy firm’s fresh produce from container base sows seeds of micro greens success

A Kilnwick Percy-based horticulturalist is going back to his Irish roots and fulfilling a dream of producing food.

Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 9:25 am
Horticulturalist Ben Conway.

Ben Conway had wanted to be a farmer when he was younger, having spent holidays with his uncles and aunts in County Mayo.

Ben said his fledgling micro greens enterprise called Short Stack utilising a decommissioned refrigerated shipping container on a neighbour’s farm may not be traditional in the sense of farming dairy, sheep, arable or pigs, but it is a new emerging form of farming.

“I was searching for something ethical and sustainable and micro greens fit that ethos.

“I started out with an initial proof of concept by growing from a breeze block outbuilding in our garden, which I insulated and began growing in trays vertically, three to four decks high. It proved successful and that’s when I invested in the container to take it to the next level.”

Ben’s studies at Salford and Leeds had been in technology and his career has included technology sales, but in music and communication rather than growing food. Ben said that technology in all areas has been a major part of his life.

He said: “I’ve always had an interest in the technology behind hydroponics and what I now see as digital farming or digital horticulture.

“It is a way in which quality fresh food can be grown more quickly all-year round and provide the healthy food that people are switching on to in restaurants and at home.

“I can grow such as radish in eight to ten days and herbs such as Thai basil, lemon basil or coriander within a month.

“It’s about simulating summertime 52 weeks of the year using climate controllers to control the amount of CO2, humidity, temperature, watering and to control daylight and night times.

“I’m currently running at just over half capacity, but that is likely to be full capacity pretty soon as everyone is on the lookout for fresh micro greens.”