Growing crops without sun or soil?

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by Laura E. Huggins
In a "Techno-Agrarian Manifesto," Reason's Greg Beato asks if vertical farming is the future of agriculture.

Medical ecologist and author Dickson Despommier describes the vertical farm as a utopian future where green skycrapers rise out of the "squalid urban blight" to produce high tech veggies. Imagine green beans on the ground floor and "peppers in the penthouse."

Critics of this approach wonder if  sunlight  will  provide enough energy to grow plants on multiple levels--even if the building is highly transparent. There is also concern that revenues from vertical farms will not cover the costs of erecting a plastic skyscraper or the cost of the land it sits on.

PERC's enviropeneur Josh Hottenstein is tackling these concerns by turning shipping containers into grow boxes. Lettuce can now grow in the back of a semi-truck without sun, soil, or pesticides. If you think this is science fiction, check out his article in PERC Reports or watch him on TEDx:

Huggins is a research fellow and former director of outreach with PERC as well as a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Her association with PERC goes back several years, although she has recently embarked on a new venture as the manager of economic initiatives for the American Prairie Reserve. Huggins coauthored with...
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