Major metropolitan areas are making an effort to distance themselves from the traditional food supply chain. Cities, dreaming of achieving food independence from the farms that surround them, are increasingly turning to vertical farming projects that grow food in urban settings. Thanks to giant advances in green engineering and sustainable agricultural technologies, these vertical farms are gaining industrial scale efficiency.
Marking this progress is news that Target stores will debut vertical farms inside some of their stores this spring. According to Business Insider, the big box retailer will add vertical farms to some of its stores this spring. Customers will be able to pick their own leafy greens — or have store staff take on the task. From the piece in Business Insider:
In January, Target launched the Food + Future CoLab, a collaboration with design firm Ideo and the MIT Media Lab. One area of the team’s research focuses on vertical farming, and Greg Shewmaker, one of Target’s entrepreneurs-in-residence at the CoLab, says they are planning to test the technology in a few Target stores to see how involved customers actually want to be with their food.
“The idea is that by next spring, we’ll have in-store growing environments,” he says.
During the in-store trials, people could potentially harvest their own produce from the vertical farms, or just watch as staff members pick greens and veggies to stock on the shelves.
Most vertical farms grow leafy greens, but the CoLab researchers are trying to figure out how to cultivate other crops as well.
“Because it’s MIT, they have access to some of these seed banks around the world,” Shewmaker says, “so we’re playing with ancient varietals of different things, like tomatoes that haven’t been grown in over a century, different kinds of peppers, things like that, just to see if it’s possible.”
Space And Indoor Agriculture
Does your property portfolio include a potential vertical farm? For ideas on vertical farming space configurations, these concept videos from architects help to visualize indoor farming on a profitable scale. To overcome the big spread between cost of land in urban vs. rural areas, most vertical farming has to emphasize the vertical and get more yield per ground square foot than traditional dirt. In the case of a big box or supermarket devoting a portion of its footprint to vertical farming, that requirement might not apply, suggesting there’s a market developing for modular indoor farming operations that insert smoothly into traditional food retailing floor plans. If you’re aware of developments in this area, leave a comment and let’s both keep an eye on this technology.