The twenty-first century will require innovative solutions to address the effects of climate change. Vertical farming is one solution that could help conserve a significant amount of freshwater and reduce the agricultural industry’ s overuse of pesticides and intensive tilling practices, which contributes to soil erosion and pesticide runoff. There has been significant investment in vertical farming in every region of the United States; however, the cost to produce foods with vertical farming remains more costly than traditional farming, which is in large part due to the substantial amount of electricity needed to power all the technology required to grow crops indoors. Leafy greens are the predominant crops grown with vertical farming and Arizona and California are the primary producers of leafy greens, specifically lettuce and spinach. California is also a major producer of kale, strawberries, and tomatoes, which can also be grown with vertical farming. The widespread introduction of vertical farming could have a negative economic impact on Arizona and California’s current agricultural industry. Additionally, Arizona and California have access to a substantial amount of solar energy and are simultaneously experiencing a decades-long drought. These circumstances present Arizona and California with the opportunity to benefit greatly from the utilization of vertical farming. Accordingly, the state and local governments in Arizona and California should subsidize the installation of rooftop or onsite solar projects for vertical farms because it will reduce the cost of produce grown with vertical farming and prevent an increase in greenhouse gas emissions compared to vertical farms that must rely on fossil fuels for their energy needs. Although vertical farming may address some important environmental concerns, it will likely fail to address social and economic concerns related to food affordability and food accessibility and may even accelerate gentrification. However, these unintended consequences can be addressed with a bottom-up approach that prioritizes low-income and other historically marginalized communities, rather than profit.
"Vertical Farming: A Bottom-Up Approach,"
Seattle Journal of Technology, Environmental & Innovation Law: Vol. 13:
2, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/sjteil/vol13/iss2/5
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