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Vertical Farming: Growing Up, Not Out

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In the next few decades, the global human population will exceed 9 billion—and 70 percent will live in cities.

Feeding this growing urban populace the way we do now would require immense amounts of agricultural land we don’t have. So why not grow food directly in cities?

Perhaps, environmental scientists and agricultural experts propose, we could place productive "vertical farms"—essentially, space-saving multi-story greenhouses—on small plots of precious urban land.

Vertical Farm OGK

Might food soon be grown in multi-story greenhouses like this model, seen in the new exhibition Our Global Kitchen?

© AMNH/D. Finnin


Featured in the Museum’s special exhibition Our Global Kitchen, the vertical-farm model above was designed by the Swedish company Plantagon, which not long broke ground on its first full-size greenhouse, in a city outside Stockholm.

The greenhouses’ spiral helix structure would allow sunlight in from any angle; thousands of plants would be grown in pots and moved down the ramp as they grow.

On Saturday, February 2, speakers at an all-day Museum event, Your Food/ Your Future: A Day of Learning, will lead discussions on vertical farming, addressing urban hunger, and more.  

Experts at the event include Dickson Despommier, PhD, a professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University, and founder of the Vertical Farm Project. In the video, Dr. Despommier describes how a vertical farm might work.


Sign up for Your Food/ Your Future: A Day of Learning.

To learn more about the potential costs and benefits of vertical farming, visit Our Global Kitchen.

The Museum greatly acknowledges The Mortimer D. Sackler Foundation, Inc. for its support to establish The Sackler Brain Bench, part of the Museum’s Sackler Educational Laboratory for Comparative Genomics and Human Origins, in the Spitzer Hall of Human Origins.

Exclusive corporate sponsor for Our Global Kitchen is J.P. Morgan.

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