Farming is expensive. Overhead costs and risk levels can fluctuate based on volatile market forces, supply chains, and even a bit too much rain at the very wrong time.
The need for controlled environment vertical farming became clearer this year due to supply chain disruptions, shortages, and the high transport costs and emissions associated with leafy greens grown thousands of miles away from where they are sold.
But like traditional farming, start-up and maintenance costs can be prohibitive, whether you're just starting out or expanding an existing operation.
Today, we're exploring how the industry is making strides to lower the barrier to entry on vertical farming operations.
A Viable Piece of the Puzzle
Vertical farming is an important part of a resilient food system. It enables growing 365 days a year regardless of the climate, using less land, water, and time. Although not the full solution to building a resilient food system, it is an integral part of assuring security in many communities.
This type of solution stood out during events like #lettucegate - a time when California, which supplies 70% of Canada's lettuce, experienced a combination of bad weather and a widespread virus, leading to fewer crops available and a quadrupling of lettuce prices.
Vertically farmed lettuce was able to help supply chains weather the storm with its reliable supply and stable pricing.
But this isn't the first (and probably not the last) time we've seen this type of shortage.
A look ahead also shows opportunities for controlled environment agriculture to grow when you consider events like #lettucegate, supply chain disruptions, and if you're in Canada - a weaker currency that makes sourcing locally more lucrative.
Crises aside, food grown a short distance from where it's sold benefits the environment and consumers. The hyper-local produce remains fresher longer, requires less transportation, and is traceable back to the source.
However, despite all these advantages, there's still a need for diverse financing options to support the growth of vertical farming because of the high upfront investment required to get farms going.