Could Vertical Farms be the Solution to Future Problems?

Aug 27, 2020

We continue to expand as a population, covering the earth with structures and roads, while needing more food at the same time. Some of the natural lands we protect are for parks, while other parts are for farming. As things shift, we have to consider how every space can be used more efficiently. Just as we moved upward in our building plans for living and working situations (high rise buildings and skyscrapers), we should consider creative solutions for farming. Is there a viable way to build vertical farms that conserve land space?

What are Vertical Farms?

Farmland makes up less than 10 percent of Canada’s landmass. Since 1976, over 10 million acres of farmland have been lost due to suburban, peri-urban, and industrial development as well as real estate speculation. With the loss of land to developers, companies are looking for viable solutions that allow farmers to conserve ground space. Some are looking to move up with vertical growth spaces that maximize air space to offer efficient solutions. These are sometimes called “plantscapes.”

Planting vertically can save important resources, like time and water, along with space. The buildings ensure the farm takes up as little ground space as possible, giving clients the ability to grow plants and harvest foods in tight urban spaces. Some of the best places for these projects are in the cities where people are packed together and still need access to fresh food. Hong Kong is an example of one such place.

Food grade insulated panels, like Isowall insulated panels, can help offer important safety-tested materials for better builds on the vertical farms. Those vertical farms need materials that are durable, despite weather, moisture, sun and supporting weight. They should help combat mold and moisture while allowing for custom fit options.

Vertical Farming Offers Vital Resources

With artificial intelligence, some companies have been able to produce farms as that eliminate many hard tasks, making it easier to manage them. The automated farm with climate-controlled capabilities is able to produce more than 75,000 crops a year spanning 24 levels. Smaller farms can be built cheaper to establish profit before expanding and increasing the number of operating levels.

Some of the most common crops include:

  • Collared and mustard greens
  • Kale
  • Zucchini
  • Summer squash
  • Lettuce
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Bok choi

Often, questions are raised about how practical and “natural” vertical farming is. Some feel uncomfortable with the innovative design. And it is true that vertical farming doesn’t always make sense. When traditional plots of land are readily available, then mass producing vertical gardens are a little pricier and take a lot of energy as a secondary option. But, when you have no space, then the vertical farm is the solution that allows for more to be done within a given space.

When the nuclear power plant exploded in Fukushima in 2011, nearby land was deemed not safe for crops. A vertical garden saved that food shortage gap by growing lettuce to feed hundreds. Today, there are more than over 190 successful vertical farms in Japan with some growing over 20,000 heads of lettuce every day!

Vertical farms have shifted to the Middle East and the US areas too as they have grown in popularity. They are slowly catching steam to offer safe and nutritious food to areas where they are in desperate need of good options.