VertiCrop™ lettuce at two weeks.
The managing director of Valcent, the company working on the project, says he doesn't expect vertical farming to replace conventional farming. But he thinks there are a lot of niche markets for it.
Using vertical trays and no soil, Kennedy and his cousin Stephen Smith, Jr. are creating hanging gardens that can grow anything from lettuce to strawberries or even squash and banana trees.
'They use five percent of the water that is used by agricultural land and a tiny fraction of the space. So on a typical 7,000 square foot rooftop in any city in our country, or any abandoned lot in any city in our country, you can grow more crops than a farmer can grow
24 acres,' Kennedy says.
Growing produce closer to home also means there aren't transportation costs. 'The average produce is 1,500 miles farm to table. So if you remove that carbon from the system, the trucks that are driving into cities and all of the costs that are associated with that, it's a huge environmental benefit,' Smith says.
Just one greenhouse on a tiny plot of land could yield 600,000 pounds of lettuce each year, and it won't just generate food. Smith says, 'It creates green jobs, it creates new jobs in cities.
It meets the needs of a local population that can grow and own their own food and their own source of food production.'