Food is life’s very nutrition, but it is also getting increasingly difficult to cultivate on a large scale. Overcultivation is a result of a combination of exponential and unsustainable population increase, human-caused climate change, and depleting potable water supplies across the world. Vertical farming is a vital component of that jigsaw for many proponents, while opponents point to its high power requirements as a big roadblock to delivering the long-term climate benefits it promises.
Existential issues like climate change and severe food shortages have sparked interest in alternate food production methods, while technological advancements have opened up the possibility of delivering those ideas on a large scale.
The goal of sustainability was a driving force behind the establishment of Bowery Farming — and, for that matter, the growth of vertical farming in general. Companies and governments are increasingly exploring large-scale solutions because of global climate disasters, which is why the business secured a $300 million round in May from more enthusiastic investors. Companies like Bowery have piqued the public’s interest because of the potential role they may play in reshaping the 10,000-year-old tradition of agriculture. It is bold rhetoric but is expected in a world where people are irresistibly drawn to the idea that the cure to decades of damaging technologies may be found in the technology itself. It is a reassuring idea.
In the first half of this TC-1, I will discuss Bowery Farming’s beginnings as well as the vertical farming trend in general. I’ll also talk about how Japan’s catastrophic earthquake in 2011 sparked interest in the model, as well as how these new agricultural practices might usher in significant changes on a planet with fast shifting climates.
Because visiting a farm is the greatest way to learn about it, I organized a trip to see what Bowery is working on. I plan to arrive early, with the intention of walking to a local coffee shop, setting up camp with caffeine and Wi-Fi, and preparing for the day. However, when we got closer to our objective, that strategy was swiftly abandoned. Bowery Farming’s R&D facility in Kearny, New Jersey, is only five miles from Manhattan as the crow flies, yet the neighboring area lacks the trappings of hectic city life. As far as the eye can see, there are just industrial warehouses.