Much of the solution to date to increase the food supply has involved shipping our food farther and farther. On average, an apple could travel over 1,555 miles and has typical storage time of 9-12 months. Does a year-old apple still keep the doctor away?
According to Brian Halweil at Worldwatch, “the farther we ship food, the more vulnerable our food system becomes.” It’s estimated that foods are losing up to 45% of their nutritional value during transport and that 23.5 million people in the U.S. have limited access to fresh, affordable, healthy foods – living in “food deserts”.
So not only does our means of production need to change, but we also need radically rethink our means of supply chain and distribution.
Wouldn’t it just be easier if we could grow the food right next to where it was going to be consumed, and do so with available land that, heretofore, would never be considered for agriculture? Well we now can through the advent of high production indoor farming.
The Move to Indoor Agriculture
The solution to many of our food challenges “can be achieved by investing in technology, thus helping increase food production without compromising quality,” says Charles Sissens, Analyst with Global Data. The technology behind indoor agriculture not only has the opportunity to make healthy, fresh food accessible, but there are tremendous advantages to the growing process itself.
Indoor agriculture is a controlled environment that enables year-round production, with meaningful reductions in the use of pesticides and herbicides, and substantial reductions in the use of water. It’s estimated that indoor growing, on average, uses only about 5% as much water as conventional farming.
The combination of the environment and technology means indoor growers can produce yields approximately 7-32 times that of traditional growing, depending on the crop.
The Vision for the Farmory
One such group with a vision to bring the value of indoor agriculture to its community and beyond is the Farmory, a campaign to bring local, sustainable, and indoor agriculture to downtown Green Bay and the larger Northeast Wisconsin region. By converting an empty former armory building into a 20,000 square foot indoor vertical aquaponics farm and fish hatchery, this non-profit will offer fresh fish and produce year-round, and provide area residents with job skills, entrepreneurship opportunities and educational resources on high tech agriculture careers and sustainability.