This week, a former steel factory in Newark, New Jersey began its transformation into a new life as a vertical farm that will feed millions of people — it will grow up to 907 tonnes of kale, arugula and romaine lettuce per year when it's finished.
The farm is one of many industrial buildings in the Ironbound community of Newark where former factories and warehouses are being rehabilitated into new uses. When finished, the 6410m² space will be the largest indoor vertical farm in the world.
The technology for the farm will come from a company called AeroFarms, which uses tall towers of LED-lit aeroponic trays to grow herbs and leafy greens. AeroFarms claims that their method is 75 times more productive than a traditional outdoor farm would be per square-foot. And because it's indoors, it uses no pesticides.
But perhaps the most important claim about the benefit of this method is that AeroFarm's techniques claim to use 95 per cent less water. That's an incredible decrease in the amount of resources needed to grow food, especially in light of the drought crippling California.
The facility will open in phases with the first phase completed by October of 2015. Time will tell if the farm is indeed as efficient as the predictions have made it out to be, but if so, this could be a great model for other cities — not just a way to reclaim former industrial infrastructure, but also as a very smart way to feed more people with very little water.