In my May 30, 2013 Blog I discussed some of the controversy surrounding genetically modified crops. As that debate rages on the search continues for other, hopefully less controversial, methods to improve yields with higher economic and resource efficiency.
One such method involves the modernization and expansion of the age old greenhouse. We are all likely familiar with the traditional horizontal greenhouse. In an attempt to more efficiently supply urban areas with fresh produce greenhouses in cities throughout the world are starting to grow upward.
Vertical greenhouse farming is not plagued by many of the negatives that the opponents of genetically modified farming often cite (see May 30, 2013 Blog). However, as of yet, there does not seem to be a consensus among experts that vertical farming will ultimately make a major contribution to worldwide food production or that there would be a net positive effect on energy use.
Proponents on the other hand cite the reduction in pesticides and herbicides that can be achieved with indoor farming as well as the benefits of controlled growing seasons and reductions in shipping and energy costs.
As with any new technology there are bound to be pros and cons on both sides; time and research will hopefully resolve many of the issues in the near future. A less controversial and proven technology is horizontal greenhouse farming. Village Farms has over thirty years of experience in greenhouse farming and operates more than 262 acres of greenhouse making a full line of greenhouse grown tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers available 365 days a year.
One of our local entrepreneurs would like to bring the benefits of greenhouse framing to us, right here in Portland Oregon, on a relatively large scale. Gerry Snell has founded Fresh Air Farms, established a board of advisors and is actively seeking a location or locations in the greater Portland area to build greenhouses large enough to make a real impact on the local food supply beyond that which small neighborhood greenhouses currently do. For more information on Fresh Air Farms please visit the company website.
For more information and insight about greenhouse farming you can view Paul Selina of Village Farms giving the keynote address at the Nevada Indoor Agricultural Conference.