Updated: Apr 16, 2021
By 2050 the world's population will reach more than nine billion people, 68% of which are projected to live in urban areas. This means that we need to increase food production by 70%! It is urgent that we develop sustainable ways of agricultural and food production to sustain the global population. However, when we looked for alternatives for sustainable food in Spain we could only find small initiatives that could hardly feed the growing populations in the cities. Here at Groots, we tried to develop a sustainable solution that could deliver healthy, fresh, and quality food on a large scale close to cities. The solution that we found is vertical farming. This could be an effective way to increase food production in urban areas in a more sustainable manner. However, can growing up make a difference? We wanted to know if vertical farming makes our lives more sustainable and healthier. In this post, we’ll define vertical farming, assess whether vertical farming can make you healthier, and provide 5 practical tips that you can do now to eat more sustainably (+Free healthy and sustainable recipes!).
What is Vertical Farming?
And how does it work?
In vertical farming, crops are grown vertically, indoors, and in a controlled environment with ideal conditions of light, temperature, and humidity. Vertical farming has been proposed as an engineering solution to increase productivity per area by extending plant cultivation into the vertical dimension, thus enhancing land-use efficiency for crop production. So, farming upwards rather than outwards. There are four critical areas in understanding how vertical farming works: 1. Physical layout, 2. Lighting, 3. Growing medium, and 4. Sustainability features.
Physical layout In vertical farming, crops can be grown in stacked layers or in a tower structure. Here at Groots, we use a growing technology based on a hybrid solution using stacked horizontal planes and modular towers in order to optimize the use of space and maximize the quality of plants. There are three main phases: The germination stage, the nursery phase, and the final phase in the towers.
Germination: The seeds germinate in chambers with controlled humidity and temperature. Development: Sprouts are placed on automated growing racks during the initial growth phases. Growth: Growing towers improve gas exchange and provide the necessary space for plants to fully develop.
Lighting In an indoor growing environment, with no external or natural light source, the quantity and quality of the artificial lighting provided to the plants/crops are incredibly important. Here at Groots we use LED light with a custom spectrum to improve the flavor, appearance and accelerate growth.
Growing medium Instead of soil, growing mediums can be used in vertical farming. There are several types of growing media that are used in vertical farming. Here at Groots, we use Coco Coir. This media is made from the natural cellulose fibers of coconut husks. It is good at aerating plant roots and maintaining moisture levels. Coco coir is biodegradable and agro-renewable, which is appropriate for the sustainable and environmental harm reduction goals of vertical farming.
Sustainability features. Finally, the vertical farming method uses various sustainability features. A control system monitors and manages all aspects of the controlled environment so that the grower is enabled to make informed decisions for optimal growing conditions specific to the crops. This results in the plants growing with exactly what they need, no more, no less. For example, indoor re-circulating vertical farms quote a 90%-95% reduction of water usage vs open-field farming.
Why is Vertical Farming Important to you?
And how does it make you healthier?
So now that we have a better understanding of what vertical farming is, why should you care, and how does vertical farming make you healthier? The 4 main health benefits that come with vertical farming are fresher food, increased urban availability, pollution reduction, and no chemical use.
Fresher Food - Is vertical Farming healthy?
First, the struggle of fresh food. You are maybe in the same position as we were, on the search for fresh, healthy, and quality food products. Local food is the key here. If your food is grown locally, it spared a long shipping and refrigerating process, and no artificial preservatives like wax coating are needed to keep the products fresh. For example, one study found that increased storage time results in a nutrient loss in vegetables such as lettuce. Vertical farming can give you healthy and quality food products without the need for pesticides, artificial preservatives, and long supply chains.
Increased availability - How much more efficient is vertical farming?
Eating what is in season to get fresher, sweeter, and perfectly ripe products is a thing of the past with vertical farming. Vertical farming can give you healthy, local, and sustainable food. Anywhere. Anytime. Thanks to the controlled environments, you can get fresh products all 365 days of the year. Here at Groots, we also grow our plants throughout the year, regardless of the seasons or the weather. Vertical farming can also help to ensure that you, me, and our children have the possibility of getting fresh products in the future.
Pollution reduction - How does vertical farming help the environment?
Vertical farming eliminates polluting fuel for long-distance transportation, so this will lead to less pollution and cleaner air for you. Vertical farms can grow crops closer to the point of consumption. This means more local food. In conventional farming, food travels are on average 1500 miles. The research organization, the WorldWatch Institute found that the conventional food distribution system used 4 to 17 times more fuel and emitted 5 to 17 times more CO2 than the local and regional systems. Besides, another study by the University of Illinois states that by reducing the amount of land needed to grow food, farmland can be returned to its natural habitat.
No chemical use - Does vertical farming use pesticides?
In vertical farming, the controlled environment in which plants grow provides a healthy space sealed off from the outside environment where there are virtually no pests. As a result, there is virtually no need for pesticides. We give you pesticide-free crops!
Tips and Reminders for Vertical Farming
5 Things you can do now to eat more sustainably
With vertical farming, we hope that we can contribute to the growing food insecurity problem. However, you can also integrate the benefits of vertical farming into your own lifestyle. Here are 5 things you can do now to eat more sustainably:
Eat More Plants and Less Meat The Healthy Eating Plate suggests for an optimal diet you have to fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits. At the same time this diet benefits the planet. Shifting to a more plant-based way of eating will help reduce freshwater withdrawals and deforestation: A win-win for both your personal health and the environment.
Avoid processed foods Processed food contains multiple chemicals and often involves energy-intensive production processes. Plus, all that packaging typically ends up in a landfill, where plastic poisons the environment and can take thousands of years to break down.
Eat Local: trace your food Do you know where your food comes from? If you can pinpoint where your food was grown and produced, you can make more informed decisions to maximize quality, freshness, and nutritional value.
Grow your own food What is more local than your own home? As well as being healthy and delicious, it is free from the carbon footprint of shop-bought food produced somewhere far away.
Cut your food waste When we throw away food we are throwing away natural resources and money. The average household wastes around 30% of the food it buys – that’s like taking 100 euros out of the bank and putting 30 euros straight into the bin!
Farmer (r ) evolution
Vertical farming may be the answer everyone is looking for. Vertical farming is sustainable, uses less space and water than traditional farming, isn’t dependent on the weather, and it delivers fresh products all year long. Here at Groots, we work every day on this mission to offer healthy, locally produced food products anywhere and anytime, grown in a truly sustainable way. We believe that growing up makes a difference!
Join the Green Revolution - Become a Grooter
Want to become a part of the green revolution? If you want to eat more plants, avoid processed foods and eat more locally, find here our fresh vertical farm products online.
And find here some free healthy and sustainable recipes that you can use in your sustainable diet! Or start your own vertical farm and grow your own food at home. You can have our revolutionary growing technology at your fingertips with our Boombi. Effortless. Fully automated. Fully sustainable.
With Boombi you can have your own smart garden at home without having to worry about absolutely anything. Plug & start farming right away! Find our Boombi here.