The World's Largest Indoor Vertical Farm
You can't see it on the outside, but this old industrial neighborhood is an agricultural oasis. Inside this former laser tag arena, about 250 kinds of leafy greens are growing in huge quantities, to be sold to local supermarkets and restaurants. This is AeroFarms, a massive indoor vertical farm in Newark, New Jersey (U.S.). Crops are stacked more than 30 feet high inside this 30,000 square foot space. They're grown using aeroponic technology.
AeroFarms says the root misting system allows them to use 95% less water than a regular field farm. They also use no pesticides or herbicides.
Instead of soil, plants are grown in reusable cloth, made from recycled plastic. And instead of the sun, there are rows and rows of specialized LED lighting (the plants don't need yellow spectrum). This step helps to reduce energy consumption.
This sophisticated climate controlled system cuts the growing cycle in half, so crops can be grown all year round, but with a much smaller impact on the environment.
One of the early champions of vertical farming is Columbia University ecologist Dickson Despommier. In 1999, Despommier and his students proposed that vertical farms while using less land and less water. They would also cut
greenhouse gases by eliminating the need to transport food over long distances. And the idea is finally taking root. Over the past few years, vertical farms have sprouted all over the world, including in Vancouver, Singapore, Panama, the UK, and around the US.
Here in Newark, AeroFarms is building out another new farm in a former steel mill, one that's bigger than a football field. Once it's fully operational, it's expected to produce two million pounds of greens a year - all grown vertically.