The past decade has seen the appearance of a new buzzword within the agriculture industry – “urban farming”. Also known as “urban agriculture” or “urban gardening”, urban farming is the practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around urban areas. Thanks to the further development of hydroponic technology, growers are now able to grow produce in open air without the use of soil, and with less water than traditional farming. Many of these urban farms grow up rather than out – stacking their produce on vertical shelves to maximize space – a new agricultural method which is called “vertical farming”.
Urban farms are popping up in hundreds of major cities around the world, and this contemporary methodology has been dubbed the “future of farming” and the “future of food”. This comes as no surprise, as urban farming holds a number of advantages over traditional agriculture. If the world’s population does reach the projected 9.8 billion by 2050, and climate change continues to wreak havoc on the planet’s environmental systems, then urban farming might be the only way to feed the world, especially in crowded cities.
1. Urban Farming Saves Space
The ten largest cities in the world all have over 19 million people. How do you provide fresh produce for residents in densely populated places like New York, Tokyo, or Hong Kong? The space in these crowded places is very limited, and there is certainly no room for growing food using traditional agricultural methods. Currently, large cities mostly rely on food distributors to ship in produce from great distances to keep up with the high and and constant demand. This results in the produce being far from fresh, as well as quite expensive to make up for the shipping costs.
Urban farms can solve this problem. Urban farms are compact, as they are designed with shelves that able to hold several plants on each shelf, thus using much less space than traditional farming methods. In current vertical and hydroponic indoor farms, one acre is equivalent to about 4 to 6 acres of traditional farmland.
2. Urban Farming Provides Year-Round Availability
Foods grown from traditional farming methods are severely limited in their availability, as each product naturally has its own specific growing season. Asparagus are harvested in the spring, the peak of the season being in April. Strawberries come weeks later, beginning in April and lasting until June. And most varieties of apples, which are one of the most-consumed fruits in America, are in season from late summer through autumn.
For grocery stores to offer produce year-round, they are forced to depend on produce being shipped from places where they are currently in season, which is often across the country, or even on the other side of the planet. For food to stay edible after a journey like this, growers harvest the produce way before it has ripened, and use waxes and other preservatives to maintain the attractive appeal that fresh produce would have.
Urban farming grows produce in an indoor, controlled environment that is not limited by seasons. There is also no threat from disease, poor harvests, inclement weather, or natural disasters that also affect produce that is grown outside in fields. The AgriFacture system in particular, is an indoor, controlled environmental system that guarantees a perpetual regeneration of food, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Our facilities allow produce to be grown anywhere in the world in a controlled, clean, safe environment.
3. Urban Farming Is Sustainable
Urban farms are designed to replicate a natural, functional ecosystem in which waste is recycled and the water used in hydroponics and aeroponics is recaptured and used over and over again. Urban farms greatly reduce fossil-fuel use and greenhouse-gas emissions, as they eliminate the need for heavy farm machinery and trucks that deliver food great distances from the farmland to consumers.
Most urban agricultural systems result in considerable savings in water, power and space. AgriFacture’s processes in particular use only 4.67% of water of traditional soil-based crop production, and we recover 94% of that 4.67% for reuse in the next grow cycle; therefore providing a 99.72% efficiency in water conservation.
Unlike other commercial urban farms on the market today, AgriFacture is unique in that it strives for zero-waste. We reuse and repurpose our waste in sustainable ways. After the harvest, there are 3 options for leftover waste material:
- Sterilize the waste product, bag it, and sell it as top soil.
- Reuse 20% in the next batch of growth medium.
- Sterilize, dry, pelletize and use as fuel in a biomass burner to provide the necessary energy for heating the colonization and germination rooms in our facility.
Everything we do is earth-friendly – even our waste is clean. All waste products are biodegradable, and there are no synthetics in any of our growth medium processes.
4. Urban Farming Has a Greater Yield
In current vertical and hydroponic indoor farms, one acre is equivalent to about 4 to 6 acres of traditional farmland. However, to compete directly with traditional farming, urban farmers must produce a minimum of 7 times the amount a traditional farm does per square foot.
Agrifacture’s vertical farming methodologies set a new standard for urban farming. AgriFacture methodologies and processes increases that 7:1 ratio by a factor of 3, through horizontal compression and vertical density – producing 21 times more per square foot than traditional farms or foraging.
We believe that fresh produce should be available in abundance. We have created a system that is not limited by the number of acres of arable land available.
5. Urban Farming Grows Higher Quality Produce
The vast majority of consumers believe that by paying a bit extra for organic products, they are purchasing the highest quality of produce possible. However, “organic” is a blanket term for food grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents. Produce grown in urban farms is not exposed to disease, pests, or required to travel great distances from the farm to people’s plates. Therefore, urban farms do not require the use of pesticides, preservatives, or other chemicals. It is naturally organic.
However, at AgriFacture, we want to take this to the next step – organic is only the beginning. Our produce is BETTER than organic, hence our name Better Shrooms. Our house-made nutrient-dense growth medium is sterilized, the air is filtered, the water is purified to 0ppm, and temperature and lighting are provided for maximum product production. From start to finish, our “Better” produce is carefully grown to be as pure as possible. Agrifacture grows pure produce that far exceeds anything “organic”.
It is our mission to utilize indoor vertical farming systems to provide the highest-quality produce to people around the world at an affordable price. Traditional agricultural methods that humanity has relied on for thousands of years are not going to cut it in the future, and there is a huge need for fresh produce that has not been doused in chemicals and then spent 15 days in the back off a truck before it is sold to consumers. Urban farming systems, like the AgriFacture system, is the solution to this problem.
AgriFacture is a family-owned business that has spent the last decade developing cutting-edge methodologies to change the entire dynamics of agriculture. AgriFacture’s model of controlled environmental agriculture allows consumers to enjoy local, fresh, pesticide-free, nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, mushrooms and herbs year-round, regardless of where they live.
AgriFacture currently utilizes a 10,000-square-foot research and development facility in Flat Rock, NC and plans to build an even larger 40,000-square-foot indoor farm. Unlike other commercial vertical farms on the market today, AgriFacture changes the dynamic by utilizing robotics and automation to control the entire process – from seed to fork.