IORMA Webinar: Bringing food production to cities

IORMA Webinar: Bringing food production to cities

Thursday 1 October 2020 at 14.00 BST

A quiet revolution is happening on our doorstep

Food is being produced close to city customers – with benefits to all

IORMA’s webinar brings together some of the pioneers driving this revolution.

Moderator Dr Richard Baines, Senior Academic ~ International Rural Development and Farming Systems, Royal Agricultural University is joined by, Oscar Rodriguez, architect intent on integrating elements of food production in the design of buildings; Jamie Burrows, Founder of Vertical Future designs indoor multi-layered units producing vegetables, Peter van Wingerden, CEO of Floating Farms, has a mission to design and construct iconic, sustainable floating farms in urban areas.

Also joining the webinar is Chris Lyons, Innovation Lead – Agriculture, Innovate UK


Dr Richard Baines

Director and Owner ~ Agri-Business & Community Development

Senior Academic ~ International Rural Development and Farming Systems, Royal Agricultural University (0.8 FTE)

Research, consultancy and teaching interests encompass two converging themes: agricultural and rural development with special reference to emerging economies; and, the management of food safety and quality for agricultural production in response to legislation, the food chain and consumers.

Research and contract research carried out for governments, industry actors and NGO’s has included: local – global studies of farm, food industry and retailer private standards in relation to legislation, risk, trade and systems management.

Current research is focussing on the relationships between small holder farmers, agribusiness and governments in developing various models of public: private partnerships. Key areas for research and development also includes developing local food systems and the links between rural and urban communities in creating more resilient food systems.

PhD research supervision embraces: Food and farming safety and quality risk assessments; Farmer: supply chain relationships; GHG mitigations and farm carbon sequestration: Food safety (irradiation of milk and dairy products) and farmer: extension relationships in Africa (climate smart farming; environmental responsibility, extension and ICT strategies)

In 2016 the decision was made to establish an independent consultancy, A-BCD and this is ongoing.


Oscar Rodriguez, Director of Policy at UK Urban AgriTech (UKUAT)

Oscar Rodriguez
  • Registered architect and Building Integrated Agriculture specialist, educated at Cambridge, Cardiff and UCL, Oscar has had broad practical experience from 10 years in practice at Foster + Partners, Wilkinson Eyre, John McAslan + Partners and PLP Architecture, culminating in the founding of his practice, A&f (Architecture & food). The practice aims to address
  • How the Built Environment will respond to structurally rising fossil fuel prices
  • How Building Integrated Agriculture will inform the architecture of resilient and equitable cities.
  • Architecture as the Circuitry of a Solar Economy, defined as an economy free of fossil fuels operating on solar energetic income and its derivatives alone.

Jamie Burrows, Founder and CEO, Vertical Future

Following an MSc at Cass Business School and a part-time PhD whilst working in economic regeneration for four years, Jamie went on to work at Big 4 consulting firms, EY and Deloitte, including a secondment at the Department of Health.

In 2016, Jamie founded Vertical Future, a London-based technology company focused on making people healthier. Vertical Future has raised close to £5 million this past year to accelerate its technology plans and importantly, to better equip the UK against economic shocks – through vertical farming infrastructure.

In the coming months, the company plans to unveil its “Deptford B” site in Southeast London, which will house what Jamie believes will be the most sophisticated vertical farming system in the world: a holistic, fully-automated system using in-house, state-of-the-art lighting and multiple forms of nutrient delivery, all driven by an intelligent software solution, integrated with thousands of sensors. The company also recently completed its first major licensing deal and has a global pipeline of over 50 projects, across 4 continents to look forward to.

Peter van Wingerden, Floating Farms

Peter van Wingerden

Peter is the driving force behind the world’s first ever floating farm, built in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The aim of the initiative is to shorten the distance between the production and consumption of food. With the majority of the world’s population now living in urban areas, the demand for fresh food in cities is on the rise.

Other benefits include less pollution by reducing transportation which currently carries food from every corner of the world by planes, ships and trucks. Using a vast array of solar panels, the floating farm project is an eco-friendly alternative to current farming methods. The farm has also been designed to desalinate seawater.

Chris Lyons, Innovation Lead – Agriculture, Innovate UK

Chris started his career in rural estate management before switching to business support where he has successfully managed and delivered both UK Rural and European Regional Development Programs across the South West of England.

Chris has also been an active member of the Enterprise Europe Network as both Agri-Tech and Environmental lead.

With a degree in Business Decision Support, a background in innovation, funding and grass roots agriculture Chris has recently joined the Agri-Food team at Innovate UK, leading on Agri innovation in its many forms.

See also

Are indoor vertical farms the future of agriculture?

Are indoor vertical farms the future of agriculture?

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