Vertical Farming

Figure 1: Composite picture is demonstrating three different vertical farm designs. On the first image is a vertical farm design created by Chris Jacobs, in the middle is a Gordon Graff’s project proposed for downtown Toronto and the last picture presents “The Living Tower” by SOA Architectes. (Source: Jacobs Chris, Graff Gordon, SOA Architectes)

There was a basic idea that was created in a classroom and grew up in a spectacular project that use modern technology and take place in a group of environmentally friendly concepts. Dr. Dickson Despommier introduced vertical farming as one of the possibilities to solve the food crisis problem as a result of the planet overpopulation.

It is estimated that by the year 2050 the earth’s population will increase approximately by about 3 billion people. Around 80% of population will be concentrated in urban centers and the rest of the land won’t be enough to produce required amount of food by traditional farming.

The Idea of vertical farming is based on producing corps inside multiple floors building directly in the cities. The building has very specific architectonic features and use modern and high efficient technologies that minimize waste and maximize production. As examples can be pointed artificial lighting system, solar panels and water recycle systems.

The vertical farm buildings are designed in different shapes and vary from individual projects.  Gordon Graff’s sky farm is the name of building proposed for downtown Toronto as can be seen in figure 1.  The fifty eight story building is supposed to grow up in the Theatre district and it will cover 2.7 million square feet of floor area and 8 million square feet of growing area. The whole production can feed 35 thousand people per one year.

Vertical farming offers big spectrum of advantages in environmental and also social sphere:

  • Year-round production is higher in vertical farming buildings than outdoor production.
  • Negative weather influence is significantly decreased and corps is protected against failure   caused by floods or droughts.
  • There is no necessary use of pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers.
  • The technology allows controlling humidity, temperature, air flow…
  • Black and grey water is recycled and returned to the system by using process called evapotranspiration.
  • Using composting methods via methane generation to reuse energy.
  • Enormous fuel reduction because of eliminating transportation factors and using different harvesting methods.
  • Growth of employment opportunities.
  • Increasing food production in locations poor on farming land.

The idea of vertical farming is still young and the projects are developed individually depending on the country and location requirements. This concept might sound like utopia but I still find a huge potential in vertical farming even if I am looking at this concept from a critical prospective. Moreover, vertical farming might be a reasonable solution for countries involved with famine. As the definition says, “EIA is a process of identifying, predicting, evaluating and mitigating the biophysical, social and other relevant effects of development proposals prior to major decisions being taken and commitments made”. Given this definition, this project should follow the EIA principles. I still have some questions and doubts about using the right technologies and their final impact on the environment. However, the potential result makes it worth it to continue the research.

Video 1: The father of vertical farming (Source: EconomistMagazine, 2010)


Alter, L. (2007, June 14). Sky Farm Proposed for Downtown Toronto. Retrieved September 9, 2011, from

Despommier, D. (n.d.) The Vertical Farm. Retrieved September 9, 2011, from

EconomistMagazine. (2010, December 17). The Father of Vertical Farming. Retrieved September 11, 2011, from

IAIA. (1999, January). Principals of Environmental Impact Assessment Best Practice. Retrieved from

Figure 1:Proposed designs for vertical farms. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, by Jacobs, Ch., Graff, G., SOA Architectes, Retrieved September 12, 20011, from Reprinted with permission.

Schroeder, K. (2008, November 10). Rewilding Canada through Vertical Farming. Retrieved September 9, 2011, from


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