Who’s Going To Be The First To Create Vertical Farms?

Living in Michigan, and growing up in a small farm town, I’ve seen a LOT of land used up for agriculture. When you think about it, prime land that could easily accommodate better resources, other homes, parks, schools, etc, occupies land for agriculture instead. Up until now, I’ve always found this normal, standard, and reasonably so, the most logical way to do things. Today, the first two thoughts remain, but the third thought is radically different. This is certainly not the best way to go about growing the food for the people of the planet, and when our world becomes immensely more populated than it is now (50 years from now, our population will be well over 10 billion people, and by the year 2100, it’s predicted we’ll have reached the peak of our ability to sustain life on this planet, with over 14 billion people), how will we sustain our food supply into the future years? What will my grandchildren and great-grandchildren be doing to keep things moving strong? Will our planet even live that long? It is estimated that by the year 2050, 80% of the world’s population will live in urban areas… we need to do something about our food production.

One answer, as proposed in the mid 2000s, is the Vertical Farm.

Vertical farms 2

Built just like regular skyscrapers, Vertical Farms can produce an enormous amount of food without taking up an enormous amount of space.

Up until around this point in our history, it’s difficult to believe that the technology really existed to pull this system off in a cost-effective manner. Today, it seems far more likely. The vertical farm would utilize space just like any office building in a big city: It would build up instead of out, creating far more square footage for business and meetings, without using up more square footage of the land itself. A vertical farm could use this same technique, and with a renewable energy source, could produce massive amounts of crops with a much lower cost than standard crops. Think about all of the important advantages of this!

For starters, vertical crops utilize the same basic construction and infrastructure that our everyday tall buildings utilize, complete with the controlled environment that goes with it. This means year-round crop production, even in areas of the world that get extreme cold, or extreme heat. Not only that, but areas that would never be able to utilize the land for arrogation, can now produce food on that land, and use far less land anyways. Plus, because the crops are inside, weather-related crop failures would be a thing of the past.

There are more benefits that go with vertical crops though. The crops also reuse the water, by collecting it through dehumidification. On top of that, my personal favorite, is that there wouldn’t be any need to use harmful chemicals, like pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides, which will make our food cleaner, and far more healthy for consumption. Even today’s organic food are still susceptible to bacteria occurring, for instance in manure. This removes that as well. As a by product of energy efficiency, and the reuse of water and natural resources within the farm, our carbon footprint is also dramatically reduced as well, because we’re relying on far less fossil fuels.

That reliance on fossil fuels is an especially important trait here as well, since our future depends on moving away from them permanently. Any steps we can take to do that, is a plus, and vertical farms bring us much closer to that dream – since they can be located at the heart of where the consumers are! Farms today are always located far away from towns and cities, and their products are then brought to the people. This means shipping, and storage – and expensive part of agriculture today. Since all these farms can be located near the population that needs them, the need for storage is virtually non-existent, and the shipping costs are dramatically reduced. Also, the energy costs would gradually (or immediately, depending on the initial investment for the project) be reduced as well, because vertical farms would be entirely carbon free, and run on wind energy, solar energy, tidal, or geothermal energy… or hell, a combination of those. Depending on where it’s built, the options for powering such a facility are open for discussion on a case-by-case basis.

Vertical farms

Both skille and unskilled labor can work the farms, but robots and advanced sensors can take care of the majority of production tasks in an automated way, dramatically reducing overhead.

Yes, vertical farms save the producers money on all sorts of things that are a simple part of farming today, but they’ll also save the consumers money as well. This comes not only as a byproduct of saving farmers money, but also due to the sheer volume of food that can be produced. Not only that, but it would be amazing for other businesses too! Bakers, produce stores, and other businesses would open near the farms, drawing in amazingly fresh supply every day, and selling to the masses without the need for large warehouses or supply trucks to keep them in stock.

Think about the commerce potential there… and then think about the JOBS that would be brought in as a result of this new system. Both skilled workers, and unskilled workers will need to be hired to run all of these new businesses and farms efficiently and effectively, solving a bit of the employment issue we have in this country today, especially in urban areas. Sure, grandpa’s farm would become obsolete, and that’ll probably upset “the family farms” of the world… but this transition would take so long to do, that there would be plenty of time for that adjustment to take place. Nobody would ever really notice it anyways – and even if there was a notice from small numbers of farmers, the benefits of this transition would create magnitudes more jobs than lost.

Charlie Pryor

Charlie is a media producer, writer, and a traveler. He grew up in Michigan, all of his life and attended Grand Valley State University for a B.S. in Film and Video Production. He's married to a wonderful woman named Hang, and simply hopes to one day turn himself into a man that many will remember long after he's gone.

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