Could Vertical Farming be Boulder’s Next Big Trend?
Vertical farming is a growing trend across the world, particularly in places similar to Boulder with limited space and a green conscious. Essentially, vertical farming is the practice of producing food and other bio-matter in vertically stacked layers; these layers can either be stacked through multiple stories at the macro level, or through multiple shelves within a single story at the micro level. Vertical farming may be an attractive alternative to traditional methods of food production because it is a more efficient use of land, and can also extend the potential growing season.
Additional benefits of vertical farming include the reduction of carbon in the atmosphere and the general decrease of delivery distance between farm and table—a statistic that is particularly important to Boulderites. Vertical farming has already seen growing usage in Asia, in places such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan where land is at a premium. In the Middle-East, where much of the land is simply not fit for farming, vertical farming has been increasingly emphasized in rapidly growing cities such as Dubai. Furthermore, in London, Paris, and elsewhere in Europe, the socio-economic focus on long-term sustainability have spawned some creative proposals.
However, the resistance to vertical farming has largely been a result of the high cost it takes to convert away from traditional farming systems; like solar or wind energy, the costs of such a green alternative is a strong deterrent. Many vertical farm proposals are long-term oriented, and if benefits for some will not be materialized until 2030 or later, it seems difficult to push such a sudden change. Still, there are certainly visible benefits from integrating vertical farms into mainstream society, and it seems that over time, people will be trending towards solutions that are more long-term oriented.
The future remains uncertain; but in Colorado, where populations are rising and the land itself is considered particularly precious, the use of vertical farming seems to be a viable long-term solution to the scarcities of the status quo. It will be interesting to see how Colorado grows, becomes greener, and responds to the needs of both the planet and the people.