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Feeding the Future of Agriculture with Vertical Farming

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Vertical farming is not a fairytale; it is happening now.

By Mark Esposito, Terence Tse, Khaled Soufani, & Lisa Xiong
Stanford Social Innovation
Dec 27, 2017


Traditional farming has been characterized as labor-intensive and remote to a modern and urbanized lifestyle. In some places, farm work is associated with poverty and isolation, but in the vertical farm, farmers must be data analysts, bio-scientists, and system supervisors in addition to working with crops. Should urban farms continue to scale, this could result in displacement of existing low-skilled labor. Such a shift is typical of any major industry transformation—economists call this the rebound effect. Understanding this transformation in farming provides professionals who are either entering or already in the vertical farming industry with leverage when communicating the need to embrace vertical farming with different stakeholders.

Investors are essential to helping vertical farming scale. While some major investments in vertical farming are already happening—Silicon Valley startup Plenty recently received $200 million to support its global expansion—others may have to strategize a bit more, particularly since some vertical farm startups have failed in that same timeframe. AeroFarms, for instance, secured equity funding of $95.8 million by positioning itself not as a nontraditional farm but rather as “an urban agriculture and cleantech company.” Other trends that are attracting investment include using vertical farming technology to grow nutrient-specific crops like Fujitsu’s low-potassium lettuce.

Read the complete article here.