August 16th, 2011 by Chris Keenan
Sustainable energy is at the forefront of the green movement. While most have heard praise for electrical cars and garage doors that open through solar power, vertical farming is the concept that may economically change our food system. The concept behind vertical farming is that it is possible to cultivate plant life on vertically inclined surfaces, and the plants produced in these surfaces would be organic and higher quality plants than through traditional farming methods. While this idea has been around for years, it’s finally come to fruition in Suwon, South Korea where they have been working and producing vegetables in a little three story demonstration project.
Fabian Kretschmer and Malte E. Kollenberg commented on the project, saying, “Heads of lettuce are lined up in stacked layers. At the very bottom, small seedlings are thriving while, further up, there are riper plants almost ready to be picked. Unlike in conventional greenhouses, the one in Suwon uses no pesticides between the sowing and harvest periods, and all water is recycled. This makes the facility completely organic.”
There are many benefits to vertical farming. The vertical farm in South Korea was able to produce ripe vegetables without any pesticide and by recycling water, creating completely organic vegetables because of the controlled environment the plants were growing in. Vertical farming also allows for conservation of resources, farmland would be able to return to its natural state, water would be used less as it is recycled during the vertical farming process, and because vertical farming can be done in any building, it is likely that the distance between the produced plant and the customer will be less, thus using less energy and fuel to transport vegetables.
Many cities across the United States have expressed serious interest in building a vertical farming facility, including New York, Portland, Seattle, and Los Angeles. In Chicago, The Illinois Institute of Technology has developed a plan to unfold vertical farming by placing facilities near large universities where students can conduct research while testing out this farming method.
While vertical farming was once just a conceptual idea, with facilities running and operating successfully like in South Korea, it is becoming more and more of a reality and a viable option for a greener system.
Photo Credit: beelaineo
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