Going Down, Vertical Farming Differently

David Trammel's picture

Not sure if this isn't just another subsidy dump idea, but if surface temps got extreme enough, it might be an option.


"Vertical farms usually look up. Aerofarms, Plenty, Gotham Greens — these companies are trying to revolutionize agriculture by looking toward the sky, with tall warehouses full of growing equipment extending upward. But Philippe Labrie is looking down. Labrie is the CEO and founder of the pre-seed startup GreenForges, an underground farming company founded in 2019 looking to take vertical farming technology underneath buildings. Earlier in his career, Labrie thought he, too, would be looking to the sky for farming potential with rooftop greenhouses. But he found that the sky does, in fact, have a limit.

“I stumbled upon a paper that was analyzing how much food production capacity can we do in cities using rooftop greenhouses,” he said. “It’s a relatively low number; we’re talking 2 to 5% range for the cities of 2050. No one was asking the question, ‘Can we grow underground?’”

I have to wonder about this kind of thinking.
All the issues of indoor, above ground where at least you've got a chance at natural light and then go underground?

Very little free sunlight. Temperature issues: basements tend to be cool and have poor air flow so if you want to counteract that, you've got to spend even more money on heating and air circulation. Plus the lighting.

I don't believe the people who prattle on about vertical farming or subterranean farming have ever actually grown food crops, even in containers in front of windows, and then eaten what they grew. They certainly didn't try to seriously supplement their diet with home-grown produce.

ClareBroommaker's picture

All that just to grow some leaves which barely contribute to one's nutrition? Yep, my gut reaction is that this is perverted. Just use the idea as an exercise in critical thinking....

What people will do so they don't get their hands dirty or, deities forbid, raise food from the dirt.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Zip your flying car into the skyscraper basement and pick your salad greens as you hover at the mouth of the food tunnel. Woo-hoo!
From their website, which is full of Minecraft looking fantasy--

add photo: 

Wow. I'm not good at estimating height or length but that ceiling must be 30 feet high.
That's a lot of excavating and where are you going to put all that dirt?

Sweet Tatorman's picture

I usually just ignore goofy schemes such as this one but I am glad that others are willing to step up and provide the derision it so richly deserves.

It might be slightly useful somewhere like Calgary or Toronto. You'd need a lot less heat during winter than a surface greenhouse, and you have to light greenhouses during the winter in those locations anyway. You'd have to do the math, but it might be cost-competitive for winter greens.

Corrach-the-Blue's picture

I had a similar thought. I was thinking of the crawl space under my house for extra space as about a third of it is tall enough to stand in. My thoughts were yo can never have enough space to grow more food in. Also far more useful than more daughter‘s plan to panel it and turn it into a hideaway from her wife.