Baltimore’s Urban Pastoral plans hydroponic rooftop ‘vertical farming’ facility
The first visible step of progress will be a greenhouse designed from a shipping container, intended to supply food to local restauranteurs as well as Bon Appétit.
By Katie Pearce
June 16, 2015
Ultimately, Reidy intends to fulfill his original vision for a commercial-scale urban farming facility that he says could produce more than 300,000 pounds of greens and herbs in Baltimore each year—”enough to feed an entire school system, or an entire hospital.”
To do this, the team will need a rooftop with more than 20,000 square feet to build upon. Urban Pastoral is currently exploring two options: the old Hoen Lithograph factory in East Baltimore, and the former Gwynns Falls Park Junior High School building in West Baltimore, which the Green Street Academy charter school is expected to move into this fall.
The farming system will rely on hydroponics, which delivers nutrients to plants via water, requires no soil, and produces no waste. The guiding principle is that of “vertical farming,” which takes advantage of horizontal growing space—making it ideal for urban environments. A controlled climate also makes it functional year-round. Investors are paying attention as more entrepreneurs explore this concept worldwide—through profit-making ventures like Brooklyn-based Gotham Greens, which supplies to dozens of retailers including Whole Foods.
Reidy—who also envisions retail partners in the future, along with possible work with government agencies—believes this could be a game-changer for Baltimore. Like most places in the U.S., the city ships in the majority of its produce from other states, primarily California. That state’s current severe drought demonstrates one of the glaring flaws of this supply chain.