There was an interesting story in October 2020, talking about an Israeli agri-tech start-up creating vertical farms in urban environments — allowing for fresh produce to be grown in cities.
Developed by Ra’anana-based Vertical Field, these sustainable farms are especially useful in so-called “urban food deserts,” which are often lacking in available space for crop cultivation.
The vertical farms subvert this limitation by creating vertical platforms to farm produce on walls. These greenhouse crop-fields are portable and are around the size of shipping containers ranging from 20 to 40 feet, which can fit right in a parking lot — allowing supermarkets and groceries to grow and sell their own home-grown produce right outside the door.
The farms also offer other advantages over traditional farming. For start, their container-like design provides a controlled growing environment, ensuring more sterility and keeping it safe from bugs and therefore – not needing pesticides. It also allows for automated crop management, which limits human contact and allows for consistent quality.
Furthermore, vertical farms produce less waste, as well as a 90% decrease in the amount of water needed.
Perhaps most important, they are not limited by traditional seasons for produce, with all crops being “in season” year-round, having shorter overall growing cycles and longer shelf lives. And by growing produce locally, wasted emissions in the supply chain are reduced.
In 2019, Vertical Fields was recognized among the top startups to watch by Silicon Review and World Smart City.
“Vertical Field offers a revolutionary way to eat the freshest greens and herbs, by producing soil-based indoor vertical farms grown at the very location where food is consumed,” said Vertical Field’s CEO Guy Elitzur, who is hoping to place his vertical farms in retail chains and restaurant establishments in cities throughout the US.
“Not only do our products facilitate and promote sustainable life and make a positive impact on the environment, we offer an easy to use real alternative to traditional agriculture. Our urban farms give new meaning to the term ‘farm-to-table,’ because one can virtually pick their own greens and herbs at supermarkets, restaurants or other retail sites.”
With Vertical Field’s innovative new crop cultivation method, everyone from restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, architects, and urban developers can have their own ready supply of local produce.
Four Israeli supermarkets were among the first to adopt this technology and have started selling pesticide-free greens and herbs harvested from their indoor farms right on the premises — including kale, lettuce, basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, peppermint and spinach.
The development of these vertical farms comes at the perfect time, with the population still growing and projected to reach 10 billion in around 30 years. And, obviously, the need to maintain a sustainable source of fresh produce has become a mounting concern.
A savvy local politician will look beyond supermarkets and try to install one of these vertical farms on the public land. Paris has a vine park - why wouldn't some other city/town have a vertical farm that doubles as a public space? As such, it would promote sustainability, a healthy lifestyle (healthy eating), and the willingness to adopt new, innovative ways of doing business. That, as far as we can tell, could bring nothing but good PR for the person pushing this project.
With the entire world raging about healthy living, a savvy business could contact Vertical Field to bring its products and technology to the municipalities it serves. Such a project could first be pitched to local officials, who in turn could designate a piece of the public land for this purpose. Later on, local supermarkets and other retailers could be pitched with the same solution — so they too could get some "healthy" and "green" credentials — while at the same time offering a better service to their customers.