Generally speaking, there’s not much on top of parking garages except cars. But in downtown Vancouver, B.C., a parking garage will host a high-density “VertiCrop” farming structure, the first in North America.
Valcent Products has signed an agreement with the garage owners to build the 6,000-square-foot vertical farm, which will feature 12-foot-high stacks of growing trays on motorized conveyors that will ferry plants around to be watered, to catch the sun and, finally, to be harvested.
The array will produce about the same amount of produce as 16 acres of California fields, according to Christopher Ng, chief operating officer of Valcent.
Ng says the patented technology was developed to grow food naturally in bustling urban environments and represents a paradigm shift in farming and food production — providing up to 20 times the yield of normal field crops, while using only 8% of the water typically required for soil farming.
The company says the structure is designed to grow healthy, leafy green vegetables in closed loop and controlled environments, eliminating the need for harmful herbicides and pesticides, while maximizing taste, nutrition and food value.
Construction will begin on the project in January, with an eye to harvesting the first crops in April. The greenhouse will cover less than half of the available space on the rooftop, leaving open the possibility that a second, equally productive greenhouse can be built in the future, the Vancouver Sun reported.
On its corporate Web site, Valcent says VertiCrop offers these advantages over traditional agriculture:
- Yields are approximately 20 times higher than the normal production volume of field crops
- VertiCrop™ requires only 8% of the normal water consumption used to irrigate field crops
- Works on non-arable lands and close to major markets or urban centers
- Does not require the use of harmful herbicides or pesticides
- Able to grow over 50 varieties of leafy green vegetables
- Significantly reduces transportation distance, thereby reducing cost and carbon foot print
- Provides higher quality produce with greater nutritional value and a longer shelf life
- High levels of food security due to the enclosed growing process
- Scalable from small to very large food production operation