First coined by American geologist Gilbert Bailey in 1915, the term vertical farming was initially a practical solution to a lack of sustainable soil by growing up instead of out. In 1999, Dickson Despommier, a professor at New York's Columbia University, popularized the modern idea of vertical farming. ut indoor growing and vertical farming really gained momentum when recreational cannabis use was legalized in Colorado in 2014, where frigid winter temperatures prevented year-long growth.
Because indoor, vertical growers can control environmental conditions using agricultural technology, it's ideal for growing crops in areas that otherwise would have to be reliant on long-haul trucking. Since crossing state lines is prevented by current cannabis legislation, this highlighted the need for localized solutions.
What is urban and vertical farming?
Urban farming, as the name suggests, refers to the practice of cultivating crops in densely populated areas. While it may sound contradictory at first, urban farming is an increasingly popular model for small commercial growers seeking to provide produce to the very doorstep of consumers. Urban farming happens in forgotten or underutilized spaces: rooftops, for example, as well as on vacant lots. Urban agriculture can happen indoors in vertical gardens. It can be done using self-contained kits that deliver maximum yield on minimum space, or it can happen in recycled shipping containers, which can be purchased pre-outfitted with a variety of growing technologies.
Urban and vertical farming combined can be an eco-friendly alternative to traditional agriculture, delivering high yields on less land while consuming fewer resources. It's less water-intensive, less nutrient-dependent. Growing urban means you can be closer to the consumers, which helps satisfy the increasing desire for locally grown products. There's a potential social benefit, as well. Urban and vertical growing can help address the phenomenon of food deserts, city spaces where residents lack fresh produce, and other staples. By growing where the people live, urban farmers help close this gap.
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