Rich hipsters in urban farming and terminator crops as pest control in vertical farms

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Two articles flew across my radar this Valentine’s Day and President’s Day weekend and I think you’ll find them pretty interesting.

Hipster Farmers and

The first, Is urban farming only for rich hipsters? looks at some of the different access questions technologically driven agriculture brings up. Often, despite all the efficiency and lower resource-use-claims growers make, the price of produce from vertical farms is higher. Does this exclude the very people many vertical farmers set off to help? Is that ok? How can we change vertical farming in the future so it’s not just a technical novelty but rather a disruptive presence in our food systems?

Plus, the article includes some great pictures of some of the installations Berlin’s InFarm has set up.


The second article is about Metropolis Farms, a vertical hydroponics operation in Philly that’s been getting some good press recently.

Two bits from the article really caught my attention. From the story: “They’ve just earned, ostensibly, a rare distinction: Vegan-official growers as ordained by the American Vegetation Assocation, and it’s way more difficult than just run-of-the-mill “organic.” There is zero use of pesticides and fertilizers on Griffin or Weingrad’s watch, and they’re proud of the distinction – it’s healthier on many levels.”

This reminds me of this article we put together about hacking the organic label and the conclusion that hydroponics is really going to be able to differentiate itself in a positive way from the organic label, whether or not hydroponics is ever going to be officially certified or not.

The second bit that really struck me, and gave me hope that vertical farming is really going to take off, was this description of the operation: “an indoor model of stacked, compact growing with oxygenated and nutrient-rich hydroponic methods that require very little space or resources. PCP pipe, robotically-timed heat lamps, store-bought fans and plastic receptacles on stacked growing structures facilitate lively beds of tomato plants, basil and microgreens.

terminators metropolis

Owner Lee Weingrad with his terminators 

But perhaps even cooler is the fact that Metropolis Farms was able to cross breed plants to for their indoor space – they call them “terminators” and they’re a carniverous plant that acts as pest control. In this way, they are able to preserve the clean-room idea of controlled environment agriculture with an alternative to spraying or even introducing predator insect populations like lady beetles.

I’d love to talk more to them about the species these terminators came from and their exact method of action, but for now, we’ll just have to oggle from afar.

Pretty cool projects right? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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2 thoughts on “Rich hipsters in urban farming and terminator crops as pest control in vertical farms

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