If you live in Phoenix, Albuquerque, or Palm Springs, you’re well aware that it’s problematic to grow crops outdoors in the summer, when temperatures can top 110 degrees.

And if you live in Minneapolis, Des Moines, Fairbanks, or Buffalo, you know you’re lucky if your growing season is 90 days — just long enough to get a handful of juicy tomatoes.

Meanwhile, in densely populated urban areas like New York or Boston, the nearest large parcel of land available for growing tasty, fresh produce could well be two hours or more outside the city. And with Los Angeles County’s population topping 10 million and the Dallas-Fort Worth area adding 40,000 people a year, the competition for land will only get fiercer.

These are just a few of the reasons why farming close to population centers is becoming increasingly difficult, and why so many people around the world have little or no access to freshly grown, local produce.

Yet as the world’s population trends towards 9 billion, it’s clear that we need more food. And as we run out of arable land due to climate change and soil degradation, farming also needs to become more productive, offering greater yields on smaller footprints.

One of the most innovative ways to meet our future food needs is indoor farming.

Already proven successful when it comes to growing crops in habitats that wouldn’t normally sustain them, indoor farming has taken a huge leap forwards with the advent of technological innovations like sensor-based climate control. And unique indoor growing practices, like Plenty’s iconic vertical towers, can produce extremely high yields while occupying very little square footage.

This growing method, while it may sound futuristic, has deeper roots in American history than most people realize. Did you know that during World War II, the military had indoor farms on Pacific islands where they grew produce to feed troops? And in the 1930s, the early days of commercial flying, Pan Am established an indoor farm on tiny Wake Island, so planes could stop and pick up fresh food on trans-Pacific flights.

Just as indoor farming helped overcome challenges for the military, the airlines, and others, the indoor farms of today can solve some of the biggest problems faced by modern cities and towns, including yours.

Here’s how indoor farms can serve our cities

 

Healthier food

The first and most obvious way your city will benefit from indoor farming is the ability to buy locally grown produce picked within the last 24 hours. And those vegetables and fruits will be tastier and more nutritious, without the decrease in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that produce suffers in storage. Talk about next level yumminess!

Water savings

By reusing water in a circulating system, indoor farms can grow crops with less water than outdoor farms. And with state-of-the-art gravity-fed drip irrigation and sensor-driven temperature and humidity controls, Plenty’s indoor vertical farms can grow crops with just 1 percent of the water used by a traditional farm.

Economic growth

Indoor farms not only create jobs, they can also bring economic revitalization to towns and cities by making it possible for residents to live a healthier lifestyle. Plenty’s farms are located in the heart of the communities they serve and employ local talent in every location which results in truly homegrown produce and productivity.

Greener communities

Indoor farming provides jobs, local food year round, and enriches communitiesWith fresh lettuce, herbs, and other crops growing less than an hour away, stores can reduce reliance on produce that’s been trucked and flown in. This move slashes gasoline use and emissions resulting in cleaner air for all.

Less wasted food

Produce that wilts or rots in transit gets thrown out – and by some estimates this happens to half of all the crops grown. An indoor farm in your city would help prevent this waste, meaning there would be more food for all.

Energy savings

Due to recent advances in LED lighting efficiency, modern indoor farms like Plenty’s use much less energy than indoor farms of the past. Going forward, the eventual use of solar power and other renewable energy will lead to even greater energy savings.

Think of an indoor farm in your town as a double win. It would give you more choices as a consumer, while at the same time bringing environmental, health, and economic benefits to your community as a whole.

Now that is a bright and tasty future we can all get behind.


 Read more:

Columbia report on benefits of hydroponic farming to poverty-stricken communities

10 ways urban farms benefit communities (including hydroponic and aquaculture), The Ecology Center

World Health Organization, Global Agriculture Report

Research from recent issue of Issues in Science and Technology, published by the International Water Management Institute

Sustainable Table, Sustainable Crop Production Criteria

What is sustainable agriculture from UC Davis

Fact sheets on nutrient degradation and produce storage, UC Davis

Sustainability and plant production, UC Davis