Is This Chicago Indoor Vertical Farm the Future of Agriculture?
"Growing produce in controlled environments, including greenhouses and indoor vertical farms, has gained steam as a sustainable solution to the food needs of a growing population because it uses less land and far less water than traditional farming and can be done year-round near cities, reducing the distance the food travels," writes Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz.
Chicago’s Backyard Fresh Farm is an indoor vertical farm that is trying to tackle the many challenges that have hindered similar agricultural operations in the past. Cameras, artificial intelligence software, and robots have significantly reduced labor and energy costs and resulted in competitively priced, high-quality produce outputs.
"[Jake] Counne is in discussions with landlords in Chicago and Calumet City, where he hopes to lease 35,000 square feet in which he says could yield 600,000 pounds of produce a year, in towers stacked 21 feet high, with only six laborers. His long-term vision is to open 100,000-square-foot facilities near major metropolitan areas around the country, each with capacity to grow 6 million pounds," reports Elejalde-Ruiz.