vertical farms

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Nate Storey’s greenhouse in west Laramie is packed with vegetables growing in long, upright plastic towers. Storey’s set-up is an urban farmer’s dream: the waste from fish tanks fertilizes the crops through plastic tubing that drips water onto the vertical garden. The greenhouse is small, but produces a lot of food. Like a proud father he shows off bok choy, butter lettuce and spinach.

“You can grow anything. People have grown some crazy stuff with the towers,” Storey says. “We’ve grown tomatoes and very large statured crops, watermelons. It works until they’re about 20 pounds apiece and then things start falling.”

An urban farmer’s dream in a decidedly not urban place.

Peter Gray / Harvest Public Media

Farmers are making inroads supplying local food to hungry city foodies, but many producers are trying to grow more food inurban centers. City real estate is at a premium, so some producers are finding more space by using what’s called “vertical farming,” and going up rather than spreading out.

Growers across the country are heading indoors, using greenhouses and hydroponics – growing plants in a water and nutrient solution instead of soil and using lamps to replace sunlight. Vertical farming takes that to a new level.