Compass Group Ireland has agreed a deal with Emerald Greens, the country's first commercial vertical farmer, which will supporting the future of sustainable horticulture and help reduce food miles.

Brian O'Reilly, a former mushroom farmer, and his brother Aidan, launched the first commercial hydroponic farm in Ireland to grow basil, baby leaf mixes and microgreens 365 days a year.

Operating under the new Emerald Greens brand, the brothers are using cutting-edge indoor farming technology to grow crops sustainably year-round from their base in Ballyporeen in Co Tipperary.

Crops are grown in soil-free vertical layers in former mushroom tunnels using hydroponics. The system combines a nutrient-rich water supply with low-energy LED lighting, optimising indoor growing conditions without the need for pesticides.

Compass Ireland said it will use 25% of the basil produced each week by Emerald Greens in meals for client companies around the country.

As a result of the deal, Emerald Greens will see production capacity rise by 20%, which will allow the O'Reillys to expand their vertical farming business with the addition of a second growing tunnel.

Compass Ireland also today announced a deal with Ross Hazel Farm, a fruit and vegetable producer in Co Meath, to convert former mushroom-growing tunnels on its Clonard site into vertical farming units.

Ross Hazel Farm is run by Lynsay Orton, who has been a Compass Ireland supplier since 2016.