Engineers are vital in the effort the manage the spread of COVID-19 and protect communities all over the world. Almost everyone is having to change how they live their lives and one engineer who is making a difference is Farm Futurist Ben.

Ben graduated from university after studying engineering design and set up an ethical farming company called LettUs Grow with university friends. Together they have developed a new way to farm using less water to feed more people and reduce the carbon footprint of farming. Their future farms are now feeding vulnerable communities during the pandemic.

Ben’s farms will be the difference in Bristol, providing fresh produce for local food distribution. They are setting up two new vertical farms to grow fresh food. The farms use new aeroponic techniques and the first harvests will be ready to be delivered just ten days after the new farm is set up. A second, larger module will be following in June.

Instead of growing plants in soil, LettUs Grow cover plant roots in mist filled with nutrients. This increases plant growth and uses less water than traditional farming. It also uses fewer pesticides and the technique can be used anywhere with an electricity and water supply. Because most of the farm’s operations are automated, they can be run with only one person on site at any given time to allow social distancing of key workers. The food is also produced with few people coming into contact with it.

Ben and his fellow engineers have designed a way to feed people, quickly, safely, and ethically. The food then goes to local vulnerable people via a food charity. 

With the demand for charitable food services increasing after schools and workplaces have closed, this is one of many examples of how engineers are making a difference to people’s lives in the pandemic.