On 10 years of 'The Vertical Farm'

12-10-2021    14:09   |    Yahoo Life

Roughly two hours pass between my initial email and our first Zoom chat — on a Sunday, no less. I skip the post-gym shower and pop on a baseball cap, because I’m not sure when the opportunity will present itself again.

After more than two decades of espousing the benefits of vertical farming around the world, it seems Dr. Dickson Despommier is still every bit as eager to talk about the subject as I am. This is likely due, in no small part, to the tenth anniversary edition of "The Vertical Farm," which arrived late last year. In a culture that seems almost irrevocably hung up on anniversaries, this occasion feels earned, largely due to everything that transpired in that intervening decade.

“Although there are at present no examples of vertical farms,” Despommier writes in the original edition, “we know how to proceed — we can apply hydroponic and aeroponic farming methodologies in a multistory building and create the world’s first vertical farms.”


The latest edition of the book offers a coda in the form of a tenth chapter titled, “And Then What Happened?” The answer, as I’ve discovered in my own dealings with the world of vertical faming, is a lot longer than can one can hope to address in a single chapter — or, for that matter, a brief book review on a technology website.

“In 2010, when this book was first published, there were no vertical farms,” Despommier opens the new chapter, describing what began as a slow trickle in the U.S. and Asia. “As of this writing, there are so many vertical farms, I don’t know exactly how many exist.”

The list of vertical farms that follow is hardly exhaustive, amounting to four and a half pages and offering some concessions for space such as only listing Japan’s largest vertical farming company Spread, and noting the country is home to at least 200 such farms. The U.S. list, meanwhile, begins with AeroFarms and Bowery Farming, familiar names to TechCrunch readers.


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Photo by Petr Magera on Unsplash

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