Leaders in vertical farming gathered on September 26 at the University of Maryland for the “Challenges in Vertical Farming Workshop.” The one-day workshop had an extraordinary lineup of well-known and well-respected leaders in the field.
The event was funded by the National Science Foundation and organized by a team of professionals led by Sanjiv Singh of Carnegie Mellon University.
According to the event’s organizers, the goal of the vertical farming workshop was to capture the state of the art, define a research agenda and establish a working group at the nexus of Biology, Engineering, Economics and Architecture.
Borrowing the term “vertical farming” from Dickson Despommier, the workshop defined it more broadly as using controlled environments for urban agriculture.
During Singh’s opening remarks, he stressed that the workshop wasn’t intended to endorse any particular solution, but to bring experts together in a way that hadn’t been done before. He hoped they could find synergies between the expert communities and identify the tough questions that must be addressed to advance the field of vertical farming.
Sixteen speakers gave 20-minute presentations and all of these are available for viewing through the website, challengesinverticalfarming.org. The speakers include well-known university professors, architects and designers, and growers and plant physiologists specializing in hydroponics and aquaponics. Two 30-minute panel discussions can also be viewed.
Edible Greens as Alternative Crops
More and more ornamental greenhouse growers are looking towards edible greens as an alternative crop to keep their businesses thriving through the winter months.
Today, there’s a lot to take advantage of: an expanding market for organic products as well as a ballooning of opportunities and marketing for local produce—in grocery stores, farmers’ markets and farm stands.
For many growers, dabbling into veggies also means a chance to fill empty greenhouse space and gain cash flow during typically slow periods.
Tina Smith with the UMass Extension Greenhouse Crops and Floriculture Program, wrote an article about edible greens as an alternative crop for ornamental growers in the July/August 2012 issue of the UMass Extension Floral Notes Newsletter. The article was also published on the Hort America’s blog and can be viewed HERE.
Growers of ornamental plants who are interested in using their empty greenhouses during winter to produce a variety of edible greens will find Tina’s article a helpful introduction to the topic.