Vertical Farming

A big-city lawyer was representing the railroad in a lawsuit filed by an old rancher. The rancher’s prize bull was missing from the section through which the railroad passed. The rancher only wanted to be paid the fair value of the bull.  The case was scheduled to be tried before the justice of the peace in the back room of the local general store.  The attorney for the railroad immediately cornered the rancher and tried to get him to settle out of court. The lawyer did his best  selling job, and finally the rancher agreed to take half of what he was asking.  After the rancher had signed the release and took the cheque, the young lawyer couldn’t resist gloating a little over his success, telling the rancher, “You know, I hate to tell you this, old man, but I put one over on you in there. I couldn’t have won the case. The engineer was asleep and the fireman was in the caboose when the train went through your ranch that morning. I didn’t have one witness to put on the stand. I bluffed you!”  The old rancher replied, “Well, I’ll tell you, young fella, I was a little worried about winning that case myself, because that darn bull came home this morning.”

I’ve been here long enough to realize that city folk know  very little about farming compared to country folk.  But there is a new kind of agriculture being started by city-dwellers for city dwellers.  It is called vertical farming (as opposed to traditional horizontal).  Let me explain.

When you run out of land in a crowded city, the solution is obvious: build upwards.  This simple trick (see back)  … makes it possible to pack huge numbers of homes and businesses into a limited space.  But with the world’s population expected to increase by 33% come 2050 (from 6 billion to 9 billion) and agricultural space running out, what do you do to feed them all?  The answer is – you grow food upwards.  Such is the rise of vertical farming with green-house-like skyscrapers being built that contain floor upon floor of crop-like fields.  The ten advantages of vertical farming are said to be:

You can grow food all year round.
You can produce any crop anywhere.
You can totally control the climate.
You can greatly reduce pesticide use.
You can stop erosion and runoff.
You can lower food transport costs.
You can cut back on fossil fuels.
You can deliver same-day freshness.
You can make use of abandoned land.
You can provide urban employment.

Take salads as an example.  In London, England, one out of five heads of lettuce in the city’s grocery stores are now grown vertically (in and around the metropolitan area).  And, according to the nation’s agricultural department, compared to the same heads of lettuce grown horizontally, vertical is ten times more productive per square foot and seventy-five percent less in cost.

The real key to all of this is light.  And vertical farming operates on a rotation system where produce is, on a rotating system, exposed to natural sunlight by day and  artificial light by night.  (In particular, LED lights, which cost so much less to run, give off so much less heat, and are so much more like the sun’s rays.)

The bottom line?  Only time will tell if vertical farming can stack up to the horizontal.  But God does provide.