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What is a vertical farm?

Verticle gardens save space and water.
Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

A vertical farm is a concept farm which is planted on levels or floors. A sky scraper type building can house a vertical farm. Since the garden is built upwards, rather than outwards, it requires much less space than a conventional farm.

The world is quickly running out of room for conventional farming.

Vertical farms could be a viable solution to this dilemma. It's estimated that an 18 story vertical farm could supply produce to as many as 50,000 people. This is all in an area the size of the average city block.

Vertical farms in the city could cut down considerably on transportation costs.

Think about the amount of fuel it takes to transport food from farmland to city. The resources saved would be astounding. With the elimination of travel time, food would be delivered in fresher condition and with less damage.

There's a growing concern about the use of pesticides in agriculture today.

We now know that simply washing your produce doesn't remove all the pesticides. Some come from the soil and are taken in by the plants as they feed. Some are imbedded, as in genetically modified plants. The vertical farm would be a greenhouse type environment, eliminating the need for a large number of pesticides.

NASA has shown an interest in vertical farming.

It's an option for populating planets other than earth. Vertical farms can be established in a contained space, therefore they're an excellent solution for living well in an environment far different from our own.

Vertical gardens could be run independently from the electric grid.

This would be done by utilizing solar power through installed panels. The initial costs of the panels would be high, but justified quickly enough through non-existent power bills. The vertical garden could be at least partially heated by the sun as well, through the use of large insulated glass windows.

Hydroponics could be a big part of vertical gardening.

This would lesson the amount of soil needed to grow food. Of course, not all food does well with this type of planting. However, there are many crops that actually seem to do better.

In some climates, a lack of adequate sunlight creates a short growing season.

The solar power option may not work as well here. The addition of grow lights would make it possible to grow crops in vertical gardens in these areas. In other words, we could grow crops in areas where we never could before.

Certain designs of vertical gardens would enable us to grow crops year round.

Imagine slicing up a fresh tomato for a salad in December. I'm not talking about the ones shipped from halfway across the world. I'm talking about one that was picked an hour ago, two blocks from your house, and grown pesticide free.

Vertical farms may just be a concept for now. However, they're a concept that may just solve many of our problems in the future.

This article was previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo! property.

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