Top 5 Books For Vertical Farming

Many of you have asked me how I started learning about vertical farming. Well, today I’m sharing five books that cover everything from entrepreneurship and the potential of vertical farming to space efficiency and nutrient management that will help you get started. Without a doubt, the knowledge in these books will put you on your way to owning your own vertical farm.
vertical farming books

Recommended Books:

The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century, Dickson Despommier: Despommier is considered the father of vertical farming and this is the book that got many people started in this movement. After reading this, you’ll fantasize about skyscrapers feeding cities and know where to look for further research.

The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber: This is a general business book that demonstrates the importance of implementing replicable systems – something most small farmers avoid that leads to wasting their own labor and often money on bad hiring decisions and inefficient work flow.

The Urban Farmer: Growing Food for Profit on Leased and Borrowed Land, Curtis Stone: While not focused on hydroponic or vertical production, learning how Stone thinks through his farming decisions in terms of maximizing profit and space is beneficial for any farmer.

Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space, Derek Fell: Though this book is meant for gardeners, its principles are easily transferable and people love it. Fell teaches you how to look at intensifying a given space while minimizing effort – the foundation of vertical farming.

Teaming With Nutrients, Jeff Lowenfels: This book makes cellular biology not only readable, but super engaging too. While also written for gardeners, the science Lowenfels explains is absolutely necessary for people working with hydroponics or reliant on nutrient (whether from things like compost tea or synthetics).


There are others out there that I’ve read, and I’m sure some that I’m missing out on some, but I’ve found most other books on vertical farming to be either too ponderous/impracticable for starting out, or filled with useless minutiae.
So, instead of having you wade through that unknown, this list was selected by myself and the other vertical farming panelists at Future Harvest’s Cultivate the Chesapeake Foodshed for their quality and accessibility. While I’ve been working with vertical farms and helping others set up their own for about 3 years, I’ve only just started selling produce commercially. So don’t just take my word for it! Niraj Ray and Mary Ackley have demonstrated their chops and are doing great things here in DC. Check out their sites while you’re at it!
Thanks for checking out our blog and website. I will note that the links are affiliate links, meaning amazon will give me a portion of the sale if you make the purchase on that page. That would really help me out (more LEDs!) and if you’d like to say thank you for giving you some helpful information, buying there is a good way to do it.

4 thoughts on “Top 5 Books For Vertical Farming

  1. …and if you are really serious about commercial vertical farming, you should read The Plant Factory by Toyoki Kozai and also his latest book LED Lighting for Urban Agriculture.

  2. LED Lighting for Urban Agriculture by Dr. Toyoki Kozai and Dr. Erik Runkle.

    Please stop calling Despommier the Father of Vertical Farming. He is not.

    • For many, he is the one who exposed them to the idea and he certainly popularized it. I do understand that the term has been around for much longer, the concept practiced longer than that, and that other people have done much more practical work. Thanks for your insight and suggestion – I don’t like to recommend either of Kozai’s books until people have gotten a firm grasp on the basics. In general, I would rather pay a consultant $200 and spend an hour talking to them than to pay over $200 for his books and then much longer reading them. With regards to his lighting book, what I’ve found in my tests is that LED lights are much more similar than what marketers would have you believe and that the slight advantages are not always worth the effort (or final price tag) it takes to wade through all the propaganda to find the science that demonstrates it. Plus that text costs over $100, not appropriate for recommending to “anyone.” As you say, it can be quite good for people who might be more advanced.

  3. Pingback: Our Philosophy (and progress pictures) | The Urban Vertical Farming Project

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