Learn about your lettuce!
What is vertical agriculture? Vertical agriculture is a form of 'controlled environment agriculture' that involves growing a variety of crops indoors using stackable shelves, LED lights, and plant nutrients that are circulated to root systems by water pumps. Vertical farms can be established in many different types of places (e.g., warehouses, shipping containers, etc.), whereas conventional lettuce is typically grown on agricultural land in greenhouses or fields.
Vertical agriculture can help spare land that would otherwise be used to produce crops. Because every part of a vertical farming system is controlled, it also optimizes agricultural input use. Several factors affect the quality of vertically farmed lettuce (i.e., nutritional value, appearance) like plant nutrient uptake, microbial activity, light intensity (LED or sunlight), and the lettuce variety. Other factors to consider when comparing vertical to conventional agriculture could include environmental (e.g., land use), economic (e.g., market price), and social (e.g., nutrition) considerations. Such factors allow us to think about how vertical farming can contribute to local food systems, and what are key challenges for this farming approach to fulfill this role. Below are some opportunities and considerations for vertical agriculture.
How far did you lettuce travel?
Click your neighbourhood below to see how far the lettuce travelled from the farm to you. For comparison, these are (roughly) the distances between your grocery store and places from where lettuce is frequently imported to Canada.
Central Coast, California
Yuma County, Arizona