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Serenity Farms

Project > Sustainable food production in arid regions

Serenity Farms is a concept for a sustainable 100+ ha greenhouse facility for profitable food production in arid climates. The first site is to be located on the west coast of Saudi Arabia, under the vision of the Reza Investment Company. The core of Serenity Farms is a repeatable ‘stamp’ design, producing the annual fresh food nutrition needs for over 60.000 people. It sources and treats water from renewable sources exclusively such as seawater, and is powered by the sun.

With Serenity Farms way we produce healthy, consistent, high quality fresh produce for people that currently rely on expensive air freight products or water-intensive low quality local products. Our solution increases food security, reduces carbon emissions, and reduces water use significantly, among other benefits.

Serenity Farms in a nutshell:

  • Food security for a local population by reliably producing healthy fresh food of consistent quality year round
  •  A boost to local economy by creating employment for a range of skilled and educated workers, from senior management, human resources, and harvesting to research, administration, hospitality, and packaging
  •  Knowledge development industry on sustainable food production in arid regions
  •  Education and training, capacity development, and an improvement to human capital
  •  Over 95% reduction in the use of water compared to local open field agriculture
  •  CO2 and air pollution savings by eliminating imports and associated (air) freight for fresh food supplies, and by producing its own electricity
  •  Prepared for future industrial symbiosis by connecting to organic waste sources from hospitality and chicken farms, CO2 sourcing from the atmosphere and adjacent industries, as well as using greenhouse plant fibers for packaging production. 

Food for the desert

A changing climate, on top of dwindling resources needed for agriculture, and fast paced population growth, complicates our collective mandate to grow enough food. Food security and effects on national autonomy are of significant concern to many countries. Especially arid countries suffer, with a low natural domestic food production capacity, which includes Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. 

“Taking into account a growing population and shifting diets, the world will need to produce 69% more food calories in 2050 than we did in 2006.” 
- World Resources Institute

Fresh water sources are on the verge of depletion, which invalidates current local agricultural practices. Furthermore, growing populations increasingly make nations dependent on international trade from around the world, causing increased food security risks, as well requiring expensive, carbon intensive cooled airfreight movements that reduce quality and increase risk. To make local sustainable high quality food production in the desert a reality, we initiated the Serenity Farms project in Saudi Arabia.

Serenity Farms employs Dutch greenhouse technology, capable of reducing water consumption by more than 95% compared to local open field agriculture. In addition, the water that is used is desalinated seawater, and the Serenity Farms water footprint is therefore minimal. All energy for the entire facility is gained from the sun, both from thermal and PV sources.

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” 
- Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

Water as a source of life

In arid regions, water is the most valuable resource, above anything else. Due to the unprecedented consumption needs over the last 100 years, many such regions have started to depend on, and deplete, fossil water sources. Saudi Arabia for example has depleted over 80% of their fossil water reserves in the last 50 years alone, facing the consequences in the near future. In order to prolong the life of the remaining fossil water deposits, and mitigate the economic damage, it has banned the use of water in open field agriculture for cereal and feed crops. While these harsh steps are taken, it is not expected to resolve the shortage in the long term, and many more interventions are expected under the KSA government’s Vision 2030.

Serenity Farms sets a precedent for a new industry, compliant with Vision 2030 and beyond. It has the potential to expand as a solution into the GCC region, and other arid regions in the world.

End of  the fossil era for fresh food

Global efforts are slowly but steadily turning their backs to fossil fuel, while oil deposits slowly dry up. Many countries that were able to build their economy on these industries are looking into the future, and are preparing for the inevitable shift. Saudi Arabia is facing this challenge, which they address in their Vision 2030. They declare to significantly develop their non-oil economy, funneling current income from oil into new industries which are to help them become more autonomous after the oil dries up.

 Serenity Farms stands to be among the first in a new industry towards fossil fuel free food security, employing renewable energy sources based on solar power. Reducing air freight and using solar power reduces fossil fuel demands and saves over 55 tons of CO2 per year.

Sustainable arid food production

To ensure a long term viable solution which fits snugly into its local and systemic context, the local needs and conditions were analysed in great detail, in which client knowledge was invaluable. For this we supplied research into geographical, economical, and technological context, including innovative growing systems, saline growth, algae cultivation, and aquaculture. Under a strenuous review and co-creation process, answers and combinations were sought, not to one challenge, but to all relevant challenges in context.

Serenity Farms was the result, a novel greenhouse complex that gets its electrical power from the sun, and recycles its waste water to extract as much valuable nutrients as possible. It is financially robust, is flexible in its crop selection throughout seasons, and can operate year round. Options exist for future expansion to produce its own fertilizer from organic sources, connect to other local industries for organic waste recycling, CO2 atmospheric scrubbing, and packaging production.

Serenity Farms initiates a new food production industry for the future. It provides fresh food to the region, long term high quality jobs, education, and economic growth. It increases national food production and food security, in addition to reducing environmental footprint and resource use. It does this in a financially rewarding investment structure, with managed risk and phased scaling.

Growing into the future

The roadmap for Serenity Farms aims towards self sustained growing in energy, water sourcing, and waste processing. Additional areas of ambition are sourcing of sustainable nutrient sources, and CO2 scrubbing. Serenity Farms produces organically as much as possible, closing its biomaterial loops, and being as circular as possible in its operations, including packaging.

Simulating the desert

To meet the complex technical challenge of feasibly producing food at a profitable rate in difficult environments, Except created an advanced simulation and modelling tool.

 

 

The algorithm integrates performance specifications of high-end technological solutions for climate control, water treatment, energy production, and nutrient mixing technology making it fully adaptable to different environments, contexts, and technologies. The tool enables complex scenario testing, and the analysis of different tradeoffs between technologies, resources, land use, logistics and operational decisions, as well as profitability.

 

Contact

Except Integrated Sustainability

Tom Bosschaert
Director

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