The Promise of Indoor, Hurricane-Proof ‘Vertical’ Farms


A worker rides a lift past stacks of vertical farming beds with LED lights in Newark, New Jersey.

They might be an efficient way to produce food in a world with more-extreme weather—but only if growers can figure out a successful business model.

By Meagan Flynn
Feb 12, 2018
(Must see. Mike)


“We are kind of at the beginning of a revolution,” Per Pinstrup-Andersen, a graduate-school professor at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology, told me. “We’re at the beginning of a very rapid development in the use of indoor controlled facilities for producing vegetables and some fruits,” he said. “No matter what happens with climate change, you still have your controlled environment.”

The technology used for these farms has been around for decades. In fact, Marques began studying it in the 1990s after learning that NASA used it to grow plants in space. But only in the last several years has interest in using the technology for urban, commercial-scale agriculture picked up. Indoor farms have recently sprouted up in old warehouses, shipping containers, and small skyscrapers in New Jersey, South Korea, Germany, India, and Dubai—places where traditional farming is either difficult or impossible due to climate, population density, or the land itself. In Houston, sprawling commercial and residential developments were built on top of a swamp, making large-scale outdoor farming virtually impossible.

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