Food Gathering 3.0: Vertical Farming and Beyond

Humans are always searching for more efficient means of bringing food to the table. For most of humanity, our days were spent hunting animals, gathering plants, and then preparing meals. Which left very little time to do much else.

Then around 12,000 years ago we simplified the process of hunting and gathering by growing and raising everything in our own backyards. Instead of searching for plants we started growing them ourselves, and instead of hunting for animals we raised them. This was the birth of agriculture, and it has worked out pretty well for humanity over the years.

The results of agriculture were that more people were given access to food and we freed up time to pursue interests other than hunting and gathering. We started businesses, industries, and hobbies that no one had once imagined. Freeing up our time opened the gates for a whole new world of opportunity. And everything we have now we have thanks to that revolution in food gathering.

Traditional farming is not without its faults, however. 70% of the water we use in the United States is for agricultural purposes. Almost half of our land is dedicated to farming. The chemicals we use on these fields to control pests and encourage growth can have some adverse side effects on the environment.

Surely there’s a better way. And there is.

Inside a vertical farm

Vertical farms do for farming what skyscrapers did for urban living and business. You can pack much more into a smaller footprint. In fact, a vertical farm requires 80% less land, over 90% less water (due to hydroponic and aeroponic techniques), no pesticides, and you reduce transportation costs by having the ability to place vertical farms in densely populated areas. You don’t get much more local than that.

Plus, because of the ability to grow crops year round, you can expect to grow 10 times the amount of food than you would through traditional farming methods. More food, less land, less water, less environmental side effects, and food grown as locally as you want it to be. That’s hard to beat.

Throw in the latest advances in automation and Artificial Intelligence and you have the beginnings of something truly revolutionary.

Moving Knoxville forward.

The TVA towers overlooking downtown

Knoxville is a growing city with a plethora of restaurants and a thriving downtown. A prime location for a vertical farm would be in the TVA towers, which could be vacant soon. TVA only occupies about 40% of the buildings so they are planning to consolidate their operations into the west tower. The towers, while in an attractive location, are huge and most businesses would have a hard time justifying a space that even TVA had difficulty filling. But a vertical farm would fit there perfectly. And the windows that wrap around the buildings could even provide some natural light during the day.

Having a vertical farm downtown would bring Knoxville to version 3.0 of food gathering, make us a leader in the industry, occupy a prime space downtown, and create a source of food that could efficiently feed the city and beyond.