One of the biggest concerns the world faces is the issue of global food production. When world hunger is such a widespread problem, how do we not only come up with efficient ways to provide food, but to do so in such a way that in not detrimental to nature?
“Plenty” has been working on one such method. They are a company based in San Francisco, south of the Mission District. Plenty has been using a technique known as vertical farming, a form of agriculture where the plants are grown without soil in an enclosed, controlled environment.
Using stacked layers, vertical farming is a relatively modern concept, first being proposed in 1999, but it has become a more widespread practice since then. The vertical farms act as tall, narrow, indoor containment units for the plants. The process helps to increase crop yield, on account of the plants not needing to share the same plots of land with each other. Another advantage of the process is that, with the crops being kept inside, weather disruptions cease to be a problem. Vertical farms also use up less land overall than traditional farms.
At Plenty, the focus is on ‘Clean’, ‘Flavor’, ‘Local’, and ‘Efficient’. No washing is required with the plants, which are sanitary and ready to eat by the time they are fully grown. The organization also prides itself on being able to deliver their goods across relatively short distances, and on the rich flavour of their specially-grown vegetables. Matt Barnard, the CEO and co-founder of Plenty, even states that they only use 1% to 5% of the water to grow crops that a traditional farm would use.
After the company launched its farm in San Francisco earlier this summer, they got right to work in setting up another. Their second farm will be located in Compton, although it likely will not be fully active until late 2020. Once completed, however, it is expected that the Compton farm will have even greater growing capacity than the one in San Francisco. Combined, the farms will be used to supply produce for countless restaurants, grocery stores, and schools. On top of all that, these new vertical farms will hire locally to create plenty of new job opportunities.
Other places have been building vertical farms of their own. The Association for Vertical Farming is dedicated to exactly that. Recognizing the importance of clean, healthy food, the AVF is a non-profit organization whose mission is to implement vertical farms all across the globe. While many of their companies and projects are currently based in eastern Europe, they do have a few locations in other corners of the world, including the United States, Japan, and even a couple of places in South America.
Efficient food growth is undoubtedly a serious dilemma for the world we live in today, and it will continue to be in the years to come, but we must not lose hope. Technology is an amazing and ever-changing beast. As vertical farming has shown to us, unexpected new innovations are coming up all the time.