Have you ever wondered what would happen if Las Vegas became a lush, fertile farmland capable of feeding hundreds of thousands? Well the perplexity of the vertical farm in Las Vegas may one day become reality, albeit with some horizontal challenges.
With the estimated cost of more than $200 million, the proposed Sky Farm would be based in Las Vegas. According to Dr. Dickson Despommier, author of “The Vertical Farm” and professor of Public Health in Environmental Studies at Columbia University, “It’s in the middle of the desert and it’s 318 acres’ worth of indoor farming in a place, which ecologically speaking you, could never farm. And the advantage of course is that you can control everything inside, so you can control the humidity and you can control the temperature, and as a result you can grow virtually anything you want.”
Upon completion, this Sky Farm would house 30 floors of indoor farmland and would produce enough food to feed 72,000 people annually. The world currently uses about 80% of the available farm land and 60% of the earth’s population lives near or in an urban environment. So, the logical choice for farming is to go up for land, where the environment can be controlled, and where distribution is local. Las Vegas is seen as the perfect location for this project by some Nevada state officials, who would like to demonstrate their sustainability and environmental awareness instead of projecting an image of waste and excess.
“I think vertical farms could survive on their own without being part of the grid. Remember you get all your water back so there are huge advantages. You get your water, you get your food, you get your energy, and there’s no storage, there’s no shipping, there’s no spoilage,” Despommier states.
The proposed Sky Farm would grow about 100 different crops ranging from strawberries to lettuce, and even miniature banana trees could be grown from each floor’s specially controlled environment. The products would go straight to the casinos and hotel properties and be a very visible and desirable addition to the overall Las Vegas experience.
“The food we choose to ingest is linked to the sustainability of our health, our food supply and our earth,” according to Panya Walker, a New York-based holistic health and wellness practitioner. “By choosing to eat whole, organic foods that are fresh, locally grown and chemically free, we support our biology on every level and we help maintain our life support system on the planet,” Walker states.
A vertical farm is an eco-friendly, sustainable farm. Some of the advantages of vertical farming include:
Advantages of Vertical Farming
- Year-round crop production; 1 indoor acre is equivalent to 4-6 outdoor acres or more, depending upon the crop (e.g., strawberries: 1 indoor acre = 30 outdoor acres)
- No weather-related crop failures due to droughts, floods, pests
- All VF food is grown organically: no herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers
- VF virtually eliminates agricultural runoff by recycling black water
- VF returns farmland to nature, restoring ecosystem functions and services
- VF greatly reduces the incidence of many infectious diseases that are acquired at the agricultural interface
- VF converts black and gray water into potable water by collecting the water of evapotranspiration
- VF adds energy back to the grid via methane generation from composting non-edible parts of plants and animals
- VF dramatically reduces fossil fuel use (no tractors, plows, shipping)
- VF converts abandoned urban properties into food production centers
- VF creates sustainable environments for urban centers
- VF creates new employment opportunities
So, is the Sky Farm just another futuristic vision of a group of forward eco-thinkers? Perhaps, but one thing is for sure; if the Sky Farm is to one day become a reality, Las Vegas is the ideal city to make this dream come true.
“Living well … one healthy step at a time”
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