Support Ultra-Efficient Vertical Farming

Target: Sonny Perdue, incoming U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

Goal: Dramatically increase the financing of vertical farming installation and research in order to increase food security and adaptability to climate change while diminishing agriculture’s environmental impacts.

Vertical farming is the relatively new practice of growing plants mostly indoors, in vertical stacks, often in climate-controlled environments and with specialized lighting. This technology, by reducing the amount of actual land used to produce food, especially when combined with aeroponics or aquaponics (growing plants without soil or water-based mediums), can significantly decrease the amount of resources used to produce food. It can also prevent pollution, deforestation, and the destruction of vital carbon sinks in the process.

In 2015, according to a senior official from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the world only had (or has) roughly 60 years of large-scale farming left if trends of soil degradation through intensive farming continue. Considering this, and the fact that climate change has the potential to devastate agriculture around the world in the coming decades, a technology like vertical farming is something of a god-send, and should be treated as such.

Granted, vertical farming is by no means an absolute “cure-all” for food insecurity, as in some places and with certain plants, conventional outdoor farming is the only feasible means of production. However, the potential to grow much more food on much less land, and to grow it locally, in urban environments, where it is much more accessible and does not need to be transported long distances — during which time it may spoil, and the gasoline consumed by shipping trucks increases global warming — should be welcomed, as over 10 percent of the planet’s land surface has been cleared for agriculture.

In April of 2017, a reporter for the TV network Bravo quoted aeroponic vertical farm entrepreneur David Rosenberg, who believes that, with his method of futuristic farming, 95 percent less water and no pesticides would be needed to grow a given crop. It has also been noted that, with vertical farming methods, many types of food crops can be produced year-round in one place, as opposed to seasonally in different parts of the world, and on far fewer resources overall. Sign below to ask that the government invest more into vertical farming.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary-elect Perdue,

Land-based agriculture, especially given prevalent forms of fertilization, tillage, and mono-cropping, is highly unsustainable and damages vital ecosystems, aquifers, and carbon sinks all over the world.

While it is not a perfect or all-encompassing substitute, vertical farming, especially when combined with energy-efficient lighting and aeroponics, holds the unique promise of providing much more food, unspoiled, to many more people, using far fewer resources and taking up far less space.

Vertical farming is by no means a perfect technology, but with more backing from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it could mature into a valuable and sustainable industry that benefits many people and ecosystems around the world. It would do so by increasing economic prosperity while climate-proofing and localizing food sources, and at the same time freeing up large tracts of land to become carbon sinks and sustainers of biodiversity.

Please pressure your department and the U.S. government as a whole to invest more of its annual agriculture-related budget into research, development, and installation related to vertical farming.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Junko Kimura

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