Australia: Feeding the bush from the backyard with vertical farming

Vertical farming is set to change the agricultural landscape, allowing food to be grown almost anywhere at any time. The concept is currently synonymous with urban farming, but it is set to spread outside the city limits. Fran McLaughlin, from southern NSW, hopes that utilizing the controlled-environment technique will allow her to help feed the bush from her backyard. 

The former broadacre farmer is a recipient of the AgriFutures Rural Women's Acceleration grant, awarded for her 'Feed the Bush' initiative. The concept aims to make fresh produce more accessible to rural areas and develop Riverina's intensive horticulture industry using vertical farming.  "I think COVID really highlighted accessibility to fresh produce issues with supply chains," Ms. McLaughlin said. 

"We have a lifestyle block. So, we're looking at something that we could utilize to produce fresh food from that small acreage.

Ms. McLaughlin plans to use modular grow cubes from Australian AgTech company InvertiGro to grow leafy greens, Asian vegetables, and herbs from her home in Narrandera. The cubes are configured to deliver optimal conditions and inputs for more than 150 different crops, allowing produce to be grown under lights in as little as seven days.  "I like to refer to it as "beyond organic". There's no chemicals, all-natural fertilizers, organic seed, and minimal water usage," she said. "A large cost component in relation to intensive horticulture systems is the power that's required. We're going to combat that through the use of solar power."

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