Undoubtedly, one of the biggest global challenges we face is feeding a rapidly growing population over the next several decades. In 50 years, the world’s population is expected to grow by another two billion people, and due in part to urbanization, lack of accessible and arable agricultural land will become a major problem.
Since becoming a global pandemic, COVID-19 has impacted global food systems, disrupting regional agricultural value chains and posing risks to household food security. As a result, producers, businesses, governments, and consumers today have a heightened awareness of food safety. With border closures and quarantine, supply chain and trade disruptions could restrict people’s access to sufficient and nutritious sources of food.
Vertical agriculture has become one of the hottest trends that aims to solve these problems. "Vertical Field,” an Israeli company, has developed vertical urban farms and active living walls, which provide many solutions for smart cities. Vertical Field was established in 2006 by Guy Bar-Ness, who was motivated by his green thumb and ambition to bring sustainable nature-based solutions into the urban lifestyle. "We understood people’s need to surround themselves with a green, healthy environment,” explains Guy Elitzur, the company's CEO.
Vertical Field has developed a number of vertical soil-based solutions that help cities and institutions worldwide green their spaces. One of the main solutions that the company is focusing on is a vertical, soil-based system for urban farming for both indoor or outdoor use. Vertical Field’s geoponic growing method has a unique platform comprised of a container with built-in sensors, irrigation, and lighting, as well as an in-house monitoring software that automatically manages crop growth phases. This enables produce to grow in an optimized way with minimal need for human handling. It also ensures a sterile and kosher environment for fresh and healthy produce to grow pesticide-free all year long.
The portable urban farm can be located on the roofs of buildings, outside supermarkets, adjacent to restaurants and more.
"One of our main goals is to provide supermarkets, restaurants, hospitals or any other institution with the ability to grow their own produce and to provide it onsite right where it’s consumed,” Says Guy Elitzur. "We see supermarkets struggling with the high costs of the supply chain and longer growing cycles dependent upon unpredictable weather conditions. With our solution, they never have to worry about the weather or external conditions. They can get a consistent in-house supply and reduce and monitor their inventory waste. We are offering a completely new business model in which they will not have distribution costs and at the same time create a unique shopping experience for their customers. The real challenge is to show corporations the economic and health benefits so they will be motivated to change the way they are operating."
Recently, the company placed urban farms next to several branches of the Rami Levi supermarkets in Israel, as well as EverGreen supermarkets and several restaurants in New York. In those branches, the supermarket grows, harvests, and sells leafy greens and herbs. The system allows maximum yield from a small area. Its fast plant growth cycle provides a consistent and frequent supply of agricultural products to Rami Levi’s customers, who can walk up to the vertical wall and purchase fresh produce that is ready to eat.
By cutting out many elements of the food supply chain, which is currently full of waste and other environmental concerns, Vertical Field’s solution offers healthier and more sustainable produce straight to the consumer.
“In times when most of the world’s population is aware of what they are eating, with increasing demand for healthier, more sustainable, and safer foods, agriculture needs to reinvent itself to be fit for purpose,” emphasizes Elitzur. “We aim to lead the transformation of the urban ecosystem by making our cities, buildings, and food greener, healthier and prettier.”