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Vertical Farming? The Sky is the Limit

[featured image courtesy of Plantagon]

Here at mybotto we aim to solve consumer inconveniences and everyday problems with stylish and sustainable solutions but whenever I come across someone who is tackling huge global issues, and not just one but several--the world's food, water and energy crises, including job creation--I want to spread the word!

According to Dickson Despommier, author of The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century, vertical farms may be the solution to the alarming trends noted below:

  • by 2050 approximately 80% of the population will reside in urban centers
  • given the increase in population during this period naturally more land is needed to grow enough food to feed them (20% more than the size of Brazil)
  • currently over 80% of the land suitable for raising crops is in use already
  • Of that 80%, 15% has been laid waste by poor practices

The solution? Farms grown inside skyscrapers could provide the benefits ranging from year round crop production and immunity to weather related crop failure, reuse of water collected by dehumification of the indoor environment, no use of pesticides, fertilizers or herbicides (in others words--organic!), ability to run on wind, solar, tidal, and geothermal energy and more.

Below are some vertical farming and urban farming (utilizing suburban warehouses) examples:

1. The Plant: a Chicago-based 93,500 square feet meatpacking facility that is being repurposed into a net-zero energy vertical farm and food business incubator:

    • 1/3 of The Plant will hold aquaponic growing systems and the other 2/3 will incubate sustainable food businesses by offering low rent, low energy costs, and (eventually) a licensed shared kitchen
    • The Plant will create 125 jobs in Chicago’s economically distressed Back of the Yards neighborhood – but, remarkably, these jobs will require no fossil fuel use
    • Instead, The Plant will install a renewable energy system that will eventually divert over 10,000 tons of food waste from landfills each year to meet all of its heat and power needs

 mybotto blog the plant chicago

2. SkyGreens (Singapore): new super-efficient vertical farming system producing greens for the 5 million residents of the crowded city-state:

    • the solution is helping to increase Singapore’s food security, while also helping cut down on the climate impact of food production
    • hundreds of 30-foot tall aluminum A-frames structures are stacked to the ceiling with tiers of lettuce and Chinese cabbage arranged in a circle, each rotating like a Ferris wheel (technology that the founder, Jack Ng, invented)
    • advances in LED lighting and cost reduction would enable urban farming to move into vacant office towers and repurposed factories, since energy costs and sunlight would no longer be limiting factors

3. Other Examples:

    • Sweden: Plantagon designed a dome shaped sheer tower where vegetables will be grown in pots and then transitioned to trays positioned around a giant central helix
    • New York: Gotham Greens is producing pesticide-free lettuce and basil for restaurants and retailers from rooftop greenhouses in Brooklyn
    • Montreal: Lufa Farms grows 23 veggie varieties in a 31,000 foot greenhouse atop a Montreal office building



  • Guest
    Paul Monday, 24 June 2013

    what about, which is the largest operating vertical farm in the US?

  • Guest
    Henry Wednesday, 26 June 2013

    More Vertical Farming Information:

    Interested in learning more about the future of farming?

    Agri-tecture is the combination of architecture and agriculture. This blog is about Building-Integrated Agriculture. We explore developing innovations, businesses, and projects that employ agri-tecture.

  • Guest
    Botta Wednesday, 26 June 2013


    Thank you Henry and Paul for your comments above. I will enjoy reading about them.

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