Quality farmland ensures a good harvest which benefits many, from the producers of produce to the consumers. Our cities have grown around good for sources from the sea and land, this puts pressure on the local politicians to give up arable land to developers. In Ontario, the conservative party values developers over food. What will the future of food be as we destroy soil with asphalt? Farms will have to go vertical.
Another plus of vertical farming is that pesticides aren’t even in the equation. The extremely tight control these companies exert in the farm facilities means there are few concerns about contamination and illness caused by toxic chemicals, bugs, invasive species or vermin. Regardless, as Seawell demonstrated, these companies are not taking any chances: staff and visitors are still required to wear a full body suit with shoe covers, rubber gloves and a hairnet to limit any foreign contaminants.
Vertical farming also makes it possible for communities to have almost immediate access to produce. Facilities can be built and operated close to or even with dense urban neighborhoods. Vegetables and fruits don’t need to traverse thousands of miles from farm to grocery store and risk spoiling (food waste during transit is a contributor to the 40 percent of all food in the U.S. that ends up in landfills). Even when produce survives the journey, it can lose significant nutritional value; spinach, for instance, can lose up to 90 percent of its vitamin C nutrients within a day of harvest.
Supporters of vertical farms envision a future that has skyscraper farms beside work places and residences in urban centres. Their thinking is that by growing food where people are will help alleviate pressure on our soil and land use – and they’re right. Indeed, a recent realized spinoff benefit of vertical (or just indoor) farming is after a natural disaster these insulated farming systems can feed people in the impacted area.
In a way, Harvey was a test for Moonflower Farms. Founded by Marques in December 2015, it was one of the stateâ€™s very first indoor â€œverticalâ€ farmsâ€”where plants are stacked in trays on shelves, instead of laid out horizontally across larger plots of land. In these high-tech structures, plants donâ€™t rely on sunlight or soil, rainwater or pesticides, but LED lights and minerals instead. The goal of vertical farms isnâ€™t just to save space; itâ€™s also to find a more economical way of producing food for the growing populationâ€”and to reduce the costs and consequences of getting that food to where people actually live.
â€œWe are kind of at the beginning of a revolution,â€ Per Pinstrup-Andersen, a graduate-school professor at Cornell Universityâ€™s College of Human Ecology, told me. â€œWeâ€™re at the beginning of a very rapid development in the use of indoor controlled facilities for producing vegetables and some fruits,â€ he said. â€œNo matter what happens with climate change, you still have your controlled environment.â€
Sky Green has opened the world’s first vertical faem in Singapore and it’s well beyond a proof of concept. The functioning farm produces one ton of food every other day!
This new farm will hopefully encourage more urban vertical farming to increase local food consumption while cutting down on expensive food transportation.
The farm itself is made up of 120 aluminum towers that stretch thirty feet tall. Looking like giant greenhouses, the rows of plants produce about a half ton of veggies per day. Only three kinds of vegetables are grown there, but locals hope to expand the farm to include other varieties. The farm is currently seeking investors to help build 300 additional towers, which would produce two tons of vegetables per day. Although the $21 million dollar price tag is hefty, it could mean agricultural independence for the area.
If cities needed to be redesigned to fit a changing environment, a design like this one for the city of San Francisco would not only be environmentally friendly, but this one is estimated to be able to feed over 7 million people.
The world of vertical farming could offer so much to the world as it concerns food, the environment, and our living space issues, as its estimated that we could have as many as 9 billion people on the planet by 2050. It will take a lot of planning, and a lot of energy, but if most of these buildings can be somewhat self energy sufficient, vertical farming could be viable within a relatively short period of time.
Designed for the Hudson Yard area of Manhattan, Eric Vergneâ€™s Dystopian Farm aims to provide New York with a sustainable food source while creating a dynamic social space that integrates producers with consumers. Based upon the â€œmaterial logic of plant mechanicsâ€, the biomorphic skyscraper is modeled after the plant cells of ferns and provides space for farms, residential areas, and markets. These organic structures will harness systems such as airoponic watering, nutrient technology and controlled lighting and CO2 levels to meet the food demands of future populations.