That's the question posed by Fast Company, with the following answer:
"The business model is feasible now, says venture capitalist Hans Tung, a managing partner at GGV Capital, one of the investors in the new round and an early investor in the startup. Lighting is one of the biggest expenses for indoor farming, but the cost of ultra-efficient LED lights has fallen steeply over the past decade. Automation has advanced enough that it’s cost-effective to do much of the work inside an indoor farm with robots. Software to manage complicated growing systems has also advanced."
The story notes that "growing food in a warehouse has some advantages over traditional agriculture. With crops in stacked trays or planted on vertical walls, many more plants can fit in the same footprint. LED lights tuned to shades of pink or purple help plants grow faster and can be tweaked to change the nutrition or taste. Because the plants are in a controlled environment, no pesticides are needed, and with no limitations from the seasons or weather, crops can grow year-round. Instead of growing greens in drought-prone states like California and Arizona and then shipping them to the East Coast, it’s possible to use a hydroponic system with 95% less water and deliver produce the same day it’s picked."
You can read the entire story here.
- KC's View:
One start-up in the vertical farming space refers to the segment as "post organic," which is interesting in that it suggests that to some degree, if the method gains real traction, it could marginalize what we think of as traditional organic farming. That could have an impact on a business segment that has been growing steadily, and I have to wonder if definitions need to be changed.
I don't know much about farming, though I did have this experience a couple of years ago in Bend, Oregon, with vertical aquaculture company Volcano Veggies.