As the world’s population continues to grow rapidly and is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, it is estimated that global food production will need to increase by up to 70% over the next 30 years. Over this period, 80% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. To feed this growing population, there is a need for sustainable urban food. The production of sustainable urban food requires the joint consideration of all factors of sustainability, including environmental, social, and economic advances. One new method that has been proposed to address the sustainability issue and meet the growing food demand is the development and implementation of vertical farms.
What is a vertical farm?
A vertical urban farm consists of plants grown in vertically stacked layers, located in urban areas, i.e. an indoor ecosystem where plants thrive through automatically generated and applied growth recipes. The main purpose of vertical farming is to produce more food while at the same time using up less land. Crops are grown vertically on a tower structure. A combination of natural and artificial light is used to ensure the success of the cultivation. Thanks to the use of new technologies, each plant receives the right amount of light. Vertical cultivation uses methods aimed at sustainability, and requires lesser amounts of resources such as energy and water.
What is the environmental benefit of a vertical farm?
Vertical farming allows food to be grown near larger population centres and reduces the “food miles” associated with distribution, thereby reducing the carbon footprint. Vertical farming can significantly increase food production in a controlled manner, ensure high quality and safety, and contribute to sustainable urban agriculture that offers a solution to increasing global food security. Because the environment in which plants are grown in vertical farming is highly controlled, cultivation can take place throughout the year and is not dependent on the seasons and weather. Droughts, cold snaps, heat waves, storms and other natural events are not a problem with vertical farming.
Benefits of a Vertical Farm:
- Energy Saving
- Reduction of Water Demand
- More Productivity per Unit of Area
- Recycling of Organic Waste
- Less Land Use
- Resilient to Climate Change
- Protection from Natural Disaster
- Reduction of Fossil Fuel Use
- Healthy Food Provision
- Reduction of Herbicide and Pesticide Manufacture
- Educational Aspects
The Future of Food Production
Vertical farming has numerous advantages over traditional farming, including greater efficiency, adaptability and environmental benefits, and it is made possible to produce more yield with fewer resources. One of the greatest strengths of this technology is that it allows food to be grown where it is consumed. There is no doubt that the world faces major problems in the future. Potentially the biggest is feeding an ever-growing population in a practical, affordable and sustainable way. Vertical farming could be the answer everyone is looking for.
Time to Act now
Trends that are affecting the grocery retail market heavily influence the food-retail real estate sector. We believe staying on top of these trends as a key part of our pro-active management strategy. OPEN is the largest German food-retail focused investment fund on the market, and we want to use that position to be pioneers in promoting net zero real estate, sustainable food production and distribution supply chains.
We are currently exploring opportunities to incorporate some of these modern and innovative food production technologies within our centres in Germany, reducing food miles to our tenants and supplying the community with healthy, environmentally friendly and sustainable food.