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Look Up to See the Farm of the Future

November 5, 2012
Plain English Version

The Plantagon in Sweden

Experiments are going on all over the world. The idea is that food grown close to consumers will save energy in growing and shipping. It is a very complex science.

Some people think it will not save energy. However, the pioneers in the programs say most new ideas do not appear practical at first.

The program is called vertical farming. A building in Sweden is called the Plantagon. Plants grow and then travel on tracks from the top of the building to the street level where they are delivered for local use. In Chicago a former meatpacking plant has vegetables growing on floating rafts fed by waste from nearby fish tanks.

Advocates say vertical farming will result in fewer trucks and fresher food. It will be healthier for the environment. It is more expensive to build vertical greenhouses than the usual ones. However, energy savings from using heat from power stations and gases made biologically will defer the costs.

There are many skeptics. They do not believe the savings will ever happen. They believe that regular farms will still be the most efficient places to grow food.

But one scientist said, “You have to start small and you have to start at the research level. Everything we have in this world of ours started out crazy.”

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