New Technologies Aid Urban Farmers

Originally published in The Boston Globe

June 22, 2011
David A. Flannery (Vice President, Sales and Marketing, TerraSphere Sysems, Boston, Letter to the Editor)

Edward L. Glaeser contends that "farmland within a metropolitan area decreases density levels and pushes us apart, and carbon emissions rise dramatically as density falls" (Op-ed, June 16). His assertion is true for traditional, flat farmland, but false for "vertical farmland," a nascent technology being deployed to achieve high density, three-dimensional crop production with a small geographic footprint.
Companies like ours are building and operating "vertical farms" — indoor farms in tall buildings, close to where most consumers live. They’re providing a year-round supply of fresh, locally grown, pesticide-free produce that meaningfully reduces the energy and water intensity of field agriculture.
It has the promise of complementing field agriculture in areas of the world that can’t grow crops, or in densely populated urban areas that are far from where produce is grown.
If Glaeser wants to help the environment, he should campaign for high-rise apartments — with vertical farms on top.
David A. Flannery
Vice president, sales and marketing,
TerraSphere Systems
Boston