Israeli start-up makes vertical farms to grow crops in city parking lots

Vertical farms subvert the space limitations of cities by allowing for portable, shipping container-esque produce farms that can operate in any urban environment.

Vertical Field’s Urban Crops offers an ideal alternative to traditional agriculture. (photo credit: VERTICAL FIELD)
Vertical Field’s Urban Crops offers an ideal alternative to traditional agriculture.
(photo credit: VERTICAL FIELD)
An Israeli agri-tech start-up has created vertical farms in urban environments, allowing for fresh produce to be grown in cities.
These vertical, sustainable farms were developed by Ra'anana-based Vertical Field through the use of geoponic technology, agricultural expertise and smart design. This is especially useful in "urban food deserts," which are often lacking in available space for crop cultivation.
The vertical farms subvert this limitation by creating vertical growing platforms to essentially farm produce on walls. These greenhouse crop-fields are portable, and are around the size of shipping containers ranging from 20 feet to 40 feet, which can fit right in a parking lot, allowing supermarkets and groceries to grow and sell their own home-grown produce right outside the door.
The farms come with a number of other advantages over traditional farming. It's container-like nature provides a controlled growing environment, ensuring more sterility and keeping it safe from bugs and therefore not needing pesticides. It also allows for automated crop management, which limits human contact and allows for consistent quality.
Furthermore, it also produces less waste, as well as a 90% decrease in the amount of water needed.
But perhaps most importantly, it isn't limited by traditional seasons for produce, with all crops being "in season" year-round, having shorter overall growing cycles and longer shelf lives.
And, by growing produce locally, it also reduces wasted emissions in the supply chain.
The development builds off of Vertical Fields's successes in 2019, where it was recognized among the top start-ups to watch by Silicon Review and World Smart City.
“Vertical Field offers a revolutionary way to eat the freshest greens and herbs, by producing soil-based indoor vertical farms grown at the very location where food is consumed,” said Vertical Field’s CEO Guy Elitzur, who is hoping to place his vertical farms in retail chains and restaurant establishments in cities throughout the US.
“Not only do our products facilitate and promote sustainable life and make a positive impact on the environment, we offer an easy to use real alternative to traditional agriculture. Our urban farms give new meaning to the term ‘farm-to-table,’ because one can virtually pick their own greens and herbs at supermarkets, restaurants or other retail sites.”
The development of these vertical farms comes at the perfect time, with the coronavirus pandemic cutting off the produce supply chain on both local and global levels. And with the population still growing, and projected by some to reach 10 billion in around 30 years, the need to maintain a sustainable source of fresh produce has become a mounting concern.
This also ties in with a growing demand for fresh and organic foods on the global market. As seen at Tuesday's 2020 Israeli Culinary Expo, more and more consumers are seeking plant-based food products, which translates to a growing demand for fresh produce.
But with Vertical Field's innovative new crop cultivation method, everyone from restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, architects and urban developers can have their own ready supply of local produce.
Hagay Hacohen contributed to this report.