'Vertical Farming' Turns Empty Office Buildings Into Massive Gardens

Jul 19, 2023

Thought Question: If you could help solve one issue or problem in your community, what would it be? Explain.

Two problems can sometimes create a chance to do something new. In this case, it's a special type of indoor farming. This could be a way to use empty office buildings and help the problem of food insecurity

It's called vertical farming. And it’s making gardens in old warehouses and tall buildings all over North America. It's a growing business that could be worth three times more than its current $3.2 billion by 2030.

Dan Houston is the president of AgriPlay Ventures. He told Smithsonian Magazine that "it seems like we've hit a sweet spot." The whole world needs more food, he said. At the same time, a lot of buildings are empty. He added that when you combine these two, you have a simple way to use these empty buildings to grow more food.

Earlier this year, AgriPlay turned an unused space in a 30-story office building in Calgary, Alberta, into Canada’s largest urban indoor farm. They grow many things there. This is important because about one out of five families in that province don't have enough food. 

Vertical farms use different methods to grow food. These methods include hydroponics and aeroponics. They don't use soil, but instead use things like gravel, liquid, sand, or air to plant. They also use machines to water the plants and special LED lights. 

Industry experts say vertical farming won't replace normal farming. But it can make a big difference. 

Jackie Potter is the co-founder of Area 2 Farms in Arlington, Virginia. “Cities are changing every day,” she told Smithsonian. She said their farms create new jobs, make cities look better, and provide fresh food to people nearby. "That’s something that’s really precious,” she said.

Photo by iFarm Finland courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. 

Which words or phrases used in the story help the reader identify the text structure as problem and solution? (Common Core RI.5.5; RI.6.5)
a. urban, farm
b. create, problem
c. cities, fresh food
d. buildings, simple
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