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Up On The Farm

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Vertical Farm

The wires are buzzing today with reports that the world’s first 30-storey vertical farm is to be built in Las Vegas. This story appears on blog sites left, right and centre, but they all seem to have their origin in an article at, which in turn references a story at You can spot the provenance from the spelling mistake in the original title, which has been propagated all over the place. What the original report and its offspring have in common is a complete lack of substantiating evidence or references. All this reporter can do is proceed on the assumption that the story might be true.

The Vertical Farm concept is an attempt to address the twin problems of growing food demand and dwindling agricultural land area. By creating multi-storey enclosed growing spaces, we can achieve high levels of production efficiency and locate farms where they’re needed, in the heart of urban areas. There’s plenty of information at the Vertical Farm Project.

What’s interesting about the Las Vegas project is that it seems to be designed more as a tourist attraction than a serious farm. At a cost of $200 million, it needs a serious return to make it a worthwhile investment. Producing food for 72,000 people, a very small proportion of visitors to Las Vegas each year, will apparently generate $25 million a year, but tourism will raise $15 million. A reflection, I suppose, of the new-found appeal of ‘green’ issues in America.

One has to wonder how sensible it is to establish a major farming project in an artificial city in the middle of a desert where water supplies are already under pressure. If the Vertical Farm principles work as they should, the results could be interesting. We’ll have to wait and see how seriously the backers take the agricultural and environmental aspects, and to judge that we need information about the project. Who’s putting up the money? Where’s it going to be built? All that good stuff. Watch the skies.


Written by Pete Smith

January 6, 2008 at 11:37 am

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