With arable land becoming more and more sparse, and global populations continuing to rise, the only direction to grow our farms is up.
Vertical farming has its roots in disaster. In 2011, the tidal wave that caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster also destroyed most of the farmland near Sendai, a coastal area in the northern half of Honshu, the largest island of Japan. The Japanese government decided to jump-start a vertical farm building boom there in an effort to replace the lost land. Four years later, Japan boasts hundreds of vertical farms, greenhouses stacked high into multistory skyscrapers, where plants rotate daily to catch sunlight.
Since then, the idea has begun to spread across the globe. Singapore, Sweden, South Korea, Canada, China and the Netherlands all now boast skyscraper farms similar in concept to Japan’s. In the U.S., such farms have risen in Chicago, while Newark, New Jersey, and Jackson, Wyoming, both have contracts with private controlled-environment vendors to build their own. There are also many more on their way all over the world, with concepts and designs becoming more and more ambitious. There’s a fair chance that when you’re shopping the produce aisle of your local grocery in 2030, you’ll come across some greens grown in a tower that reaches up to the blue skies.