Slip behind a bee-proof mesh curtain in an old Foxton factory building and a sweet surprise awaits.
"Welcome to our secret laboratory," Matthew Keltie said.
Under the bluish glow of the high-tech lights, pops of red catch the eye.
A bee buzzes past and quiet music overlays the faint gurgle of nutrients swishing through tubes.
This is 26 Seasons' first vertical strawberry farm and R and D hub for the indoor growing technology Keltie and his colleagues are developing.
Keltie co-founded the firm in 2017, growing microgreens in a former Wellington nightclub.
After trialling 1000 strawberry plants last year, they now have 8000 under lights and the plan is to scale up further to 70,000 plants, producing a million punnets of strawberries a year.
Working out how to get the best yield, taste and shelf life, all without sunlight, soil or sprays is a work in progress, he said.
The plants are grown in gullies filled with a circulating solution of nutrients.
The lighting system being developed here is super slick and Keltie won't reveal too much.
"There's a lot of people playing in this space ... there's different spectrums to get the plants to do different things when we want the plant to change modes ... slightly more efficient than the sun."
"I think we'll be experimenting for the next 20-plus years, so it's going to be continuous learning the same as any farmers outdoors who're running sheep or milking cows."
The bigger plan is to export the technology, tapping into global concerns about food security.
Keltie said they'd had a lot of interest from Singapore, Dubai and other places. A pilot project in Singapore is being looked at.
The city-state has little land for outdoor farming but is aiming to have 30 per cent of its food grown locally by 2030, much of it in large indoor vertical farms or on rooftops.
Keltie said they were developing a system of sliding racks so even less space was needed.
"This project isn't just about growing the plants, there's the technology platform in behind it, how we use our lights, how we monitor our nutrients, how we treat them.
"I'd say it's about 40 per cent growing plants and 60 per cent applied technology."
The system being developed here also has advantages for a tight labour force.
"If you're a seasonal worker and you want to work in the winter and have your summer off you can come and work indoors in the middle of the winter. It's nice and warm, music's playing."
Harvesting can also be done at night when power is cheaper, although, with such high energy needs, solar power is being considered.
A lab is being set up at the rear of the building to trial other berries for vertical farming.
"I think the key thing will be maintaining a growing infrastructure that's cost-effective, cheap to run and then finding plants that are suited rather than trying to force plants to grow in a situation where they're not intended."
- RNZ, Country Life