Taubenberger: We Can Be Vertical Farming Hub

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CITY COUNCIL learns about possibility of city becoming vertical farming hub from PA Agriculture Sec. Russell C. Redding as sponsor Councilman Al Taubenberger, Council President Darrell Clarke and Councilman Derek Green look on.

CITY COUNCIL learns about possibility of city becoming vertical farming hub from PA Agriculture Sec. Russell C. Redding as sponsor Councilman Al Taubenberger, Council President Darrell Clarke and Councilman Derek Green look on.

Philadelphia City Councilman at Large Al Taubenberger – joined by Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell C. Redding, Council President Darrell C. Clarke, and other members of City Council – has introduced two farming-related resolutions.

The first calls for greater support of vertical farming, with the goal of establishing the City of Philadelphia as the world’s preeminent training center for the burgeoning vertical farming business. The second resolution supports the expansion of urban farming in the city.

Vertical farms grow vegetables, herbs and more year-round in stacked rows that reach to the ceiling without natural sunlight or soil, in half the time it takes a traditional farm. These futuristic indoor farms utilize artificial lighting, climate control and, in many cases, hydroponics. Taubenberger introduced the resolutions after touring an old brick warehouse in South Philadelphia to see such farming in action guided by Metropolis Farms President and Co-Founder Jack Griffin.

The Councilman, who holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in agronomy from Penn State University, believes vertical farming will become increasingly important, both as a source of nutritious, pesticide-free produce and as a growth industry that can create hundreds of job opportunities in the city. Taubenberger said Philadelphia, with its enormous number of empty warehouse spaces and wealth of colleges and universities, is well-positioned to become an international training hub for this growing industry.

“The future is here,” said Taubenberger. “The world’s food supply is being strained to the limit. As the world’s population continues to expand, the demand for new sources of food – especially, safe, nutritious, sustainable food sources – will grow commensurate with the population.
“Vertical farming is an incredible development. Fresh, pesticide-free vegetables and herbs are grown indoors in inner-cities, in trays stacked floor-to-ceiling, with nothing more than nutrient-enriched water and artificial light. It’s nothing short of amazing and is one very viable answer to solving the world’s increasingly desperate food shortage problem.”

The staff members of Metropolis Farms are urban-vertical farmers with more than 15 years of indoor growing experience. They grow the highest-quality food year-round out of their South Philadelphia warehouse without pesticides, herbicides, or many of the other health risks that impact the food that reaches consumers’ tables. Seasonality isn’t a factor for the business, and there’s no risk of poor weather conditions or seed contamination — a worry that comes up when growing non-GMO seeds in an open field. Lower transportation costs and less spoilage are also huge advantages.

Metropolis harvests and delivers its fresh produce the same day to local stores and restaurants. The farm’s produce will be available beginning next month at area Whole Foods stores and other supermarkets as the company builds more farms. Lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, strawberries, peppers, spinach, kale and many varieties of herbs are grown at Metropolis.

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