A Herefordshire farm could soon be growing plants indoors and turning them into fibre for sustainable food packaging.

The plan has been put forward by Gareth Lucken of Wormbridge-based Melior Engineering, “a new business with ambitious plans to revolutionise the way crops are grown and distributed within the UK”, his application says.

The plant would occupy a 0.4-hectare (one-acre) site of currently redundant farm buildings which were previously part of Hanley Court Farm, just outside Kingstone.

The idea would be to grow the unspecified grass crops on a seven to eight-day cycle under LED lighting, before harvesting, chopping, washing, pressing, drying and grading them “leaving a dried straw-like fibre”.


The process would cause “minimal noise emission and no gaseous emissions or foul odours, and will have no adverse environmental impacts”, the application states.

An existing barn would be extended to house the growing plants, while a “dilapidated” Dutch barn at the centre of the site would be replaced by a new steel-framed “bio-refinery” of similar size.

Two other buildings would also be put to use, without any external changes – one to store the seed and dry fibre, the other to grade and pack the fibre, which would then be shipped for manufacturing into finished products elsewhere.

Between six and eight staff would be employed on the site on weekdays, with a further two to four on the weekly delivery day.

A separate application is being prepared to turn an adjacent grade II-listed brick barn into office and staff facilities, which in the meantime will be housed in temporary structures.

Comments on the application, numbered 222727, can be made until October 13.