Why Vertical Farms Fail

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Check out this summary of a conversation from 3 failed vertical farmers talking about what they would do differently.

vertical farms fail

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Abandoning Malls For Vertical Farms

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Time magazine once described malls as “pleasure domes with parking.” Malls in general, and strip malls in particular, are ubiquitous in suburban America. Built in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, during rapid suburban expansion and rapidly increasing car usage, for better or worse, they were once a sign of progress. Now, a major enclosed mall hasn’t been built in the United States since 2006 and many are completely abandoned. According to Don Wood, the CEO of Federal Reality Investment Trust, even the process of knocking down or converting a mall could take as long as two decades.

So, the structures may be here to stay, but they don’t have to just be a homage to what once was. Abandoned malls and strip malls could be easily and efficiently converted into vertical farms.

  • where are strip malls headed in the short term?
  • why we should grow food in mixed use structures and think more about their impact on local economies?
  • does it make sense to convert a strip mall to a vertical farm?

Abandoning Malls

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Simple Secrets To Start A Vertical Farm

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Talking to people just like you, it’s clear that the first step is always the hardest on the road to building a vertical farm. The plunge into the unknown where your own time, capital, and dreams are at risk stops a lot of entrepreneurs from fulfilling their ambition. Fortunately, Matt Farrell took that step for you and tells all in this exclusive interview on the Urban Vertical Project. Keep reading because Matt talks about:

  • Location, location, location (where to put your vertical farm)
  • The honest truth about Zip Grow Towers
  • How much money can you actually make when you start a vertical farm (what restaurants will pay you)
  • The simple secret of getting customers who pay

Simple Secrets To Start A Vertical Farm
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Most mechanized vertical farm?

New company Urban Barns claims its system “is the highest-density mechanized machine in vertical farming we’ve seen in the world.”

When I first read that, I wanted to learn more immediately.  It’s a bold claim, but it’s one that I’d be hesitant to validate.  It also begs the question as to whether or not mechanization, as an end unto itself, is even necessarily a good thing.  The bottom line is that success of a vertical farm is going to be determined by the ratio of inputs to outputs. Mechanization is only beneficial if it improves that ratio.

Urban Barns
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Top 5 Required Readings For Vertical Farming

I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 required readings and resources for anyone serious about vertical farming.

1. The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century: Despommier is considered the father of vertical farming and this is the book that got so many people started in this movement. You’ll fantasize about skyscrapers feeding cities and find all the crucial sources you need for further research.

2.  The MIT CityFARM: MIT is pushing the boundaries of research in controlled environment agriculture.  My favorite part about this project is that not only are they working to push the technology to its limits, they have embraced the open source collaborative nature that will come to define the next greatest innovations in technology.  Explore their website and follow them on Twitter for up-to-date information on the cutting edge research that propels real innovation.

3.  Agritecture: Agritecture curates the most relevant news in the vertical farming and building integrated agriculture industry.  I’ve even been featured on their site here and here.  Agritecture includes the latest news from all corners of the industry combined with compelling analysis that goes beyond what most major news sources cover.  They are also one of the most active members in the Association For Vertical Farming.

4.  The Building Integrated Agriculture Linkedin Group: This group is home to compelling discussion and debate about all facets of BIA.  A read through the different conversations reminds us of all the priorities and passions that shape a new technology: from environmental sustainability to robotic systems, this group touches on everything while at the same fostering real connections.
LinkedIn Group

5.  Pro Vertical Farm: I couldn’t leave our own site off the list!  We would like to think that our project’s emphasis on thorough analysis is different than any other resource.  Whether we are diving deep into LED lighting issues or combining years of media coverage for in-depth case studies, we’re proud of the work we’ve done so far with the Urban Vertical Project and the Pro Vertical Farm Blog and Twitter page.  And we are proud that you decide to read us.  Many thanks from Evan and the Urban Vertical Project Team.

Don’t see your favorite resource here?  Sign up for our mailing list and reply to the emails with your ideas.  I check every single one and would love to hear from you.  You can get in touch with me on twitter as well @proverticalfarm.

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