Australia's rich food bowl regions keep the nation fed, but a year of storms and floods has repeatedly put them to the test and added to the soaring cost of fresh fruit and vegetables. Climate-driven events are forecast to increase in the future, but supply shortages experienced across the country this year could become a thing of the past as producers use their ingenuity and pivot towards indoor farming to shore up food security.
In a cavernous 4,000-square-metre warehouse on the Gold Coast, soon-to-be-planted lettuce seedlings will be safe from the elements. Stacked Farms is in the process of fitting out high-rise trestles to grow crops under artificial light. Chief commercial officer Michael Spencer said he expected interest in vertical farming to continue to grow due to increasing instability in climate.
"Whether it's flooding or pests, we seem to get one or the other rolling through each season, and it is becoming more frequent," he said. Once complete in July next year, the company expects to produce about 400 tons of lettuces a year, supplying businesses including local high-end restaurants and fast-food outlets.
It is also close to finishing research and development rooms for investigating growing fruits and flowers indoors.
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