Buildings that grow food

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The Association for Vertical Farming

The Vertecology Hanging Garden is a home-scale structure for the urban gardener that can be hung from anything able to support its weight, indoors or out. It can be installed easily and its elegant geometry makes it not only a stunning conversation piece, but also incredibly strong and able to resist 50mph winds - even though it’s held together with little more than knotted rope. 

Mark Scott Lavin, Vertecology owner and creator of the Hanging Garden was inspired by both the principles of permaculture and the design science that inspired luminaries such as R Buckminister Fuller. “When Bucky spoke of what would be possible if we approached architecture as a science it was a radical idea and still is,” Lavin says on the newly launched Kickstarter campaign page, adding that beauty, as well as function, is an essential ingredient to any design.

Vertecology is now nearly ready to begin manufacture of a kit version of the Hanging Garden for city-dwellers with limited space. Vertecology now has its first manufactured, flat-packable prototype HG planterbox in hand, as is already exploring future product and design concepts for home and community scale.

Vertecology on Kickstarter

Comments Maximum exposure stacked greenhouses on a large apartment building typology in Munich 
Afternoon work shop: Imagine a tool that would empower vertical farming entrepreneurs. Presentation of results from a 30 minute brain-storm Teams presented their ideas have little to now knowledge of vertical farming beforehand Inter-generational, inter-professional, workshop collaboration.



The Association for Vertical Farming (AVF) is an internationally active nonprofit organization focusing on advancing Vertical Farming technologies, designs and businesses. They foster the sustainable growth and development of VF technologies around the world through educating, connecting, sharing, cooperating, and promoting.

AVF is based in Munich, Germany with regional chapters in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas to spread the means, technology and know how of Vertical Farming technologies. The AVF serves to increase valuable awareness of vertical farming and urban agriculture and aims to implement such projects in metropolitan areas globally. The AVF organizes and hosts workshops and “Infodays” in major cities and collaborates with other vertical farming, greenhouse, and urban agriculture conferences around the world. Upcoming events include New York City (11.2014), Abu Dhabi (03.2015) and Shanghai (03.2015). It is our belief that the AVF’s activities will improve urban healthy food security and protect our environment from the negative impacts of the majority of agricultural practices. We invite you to join us and take part.




The event started with an overview and introduction to Vertical Farming by Max Loessl. He introduced the overall context of the need for VF: megacities, limited arable land and resources, and rising population growth. Max then presented some of the research of NASA who developed new agricultural methods (Controlled Environment Agriculture). This led to a discussion of the advantages of growing fresh produce without soil, without pesticides, 90% less water, small parcels of land, and resilient to climate and seasons.



The presentation by Conrad Zeidler from the German Aerospace Center gave the audience an insight of the first feasibility study made for a VF building ever. 15 scientists and engineers from different fields planned all the details for a 44 stories VF farm, producing 4900 tons of vegetables and 100 tons fish filet per year. Quantifiable vertical farming designs are an important first step for any VF building construction in the future: they set a standard and model for future development. Other attempts at this include the BXVF, by Henry Gordon-Smith, under the advisement of Dr. Dickson Despommier.



Another highlight was the presentation of one of the worlds leading plant scientists Prof. Jasper den Besten from HAS University, NL. His research on CEA plant science opened up a totally new view towards what nature provides for plants and what they really need to grow indoors.  We learned how important wavelength, temperature, and other environmental factors are for the growth, yield and nutrients of a plant. He also offered considerable arguments for VF especially from an economic perspective as his research has proven that VF is economically feasible for certain leafy greens like Basil.


In another presentation from the biggest international network for sustainable cities ICLEI, by Roman Mendle, we were confronted again by unavoidable future developments like the pressure of population growth, shrinking resources and need for more healthy food. He focused on the social aspects of the topic and the need for communication and cooperation. Everything in cities is interconnected and will have an impact on sustainability.


After a short break and nice snacks from local producers we continued with an interesting presentation of the University of Hohenheim who, for more than 100 years has been active in the research of agriculture all over the world. Mr. Schmierer is involved in a unique project to grow rice vertically. His details and findings have been published publicly and show a promising way to grow such an important staple food as rice in vertical farms. Still, according to Schmierer, more research is necessary to develop this in an economical way.



The highlight of the afternoon was Henry Gordon-Smith’s presentation about trends in vertical farming in North America. Henry focused on the rapid acceleration of warehouse indoor artificially lit vertical farms, citing projects like FarmedHere, Green Spirit Farms, and Green Sense Farms. The trends he identified were a raid increase in peri-urban warehouse procurement, primarily leafy greens growth, a rise in entrepreneurs trying to get in on the action, moves towards automation, and a rising interest from non-profits wanting to get involved with controlled environment agriculture. He cited the recent bankruptcy of Local Garden vertical farm and encourages more collaboration in the industry through design workshops and tool development to strengthen the industry.


Henry concluded his presentation with a 30 minute workshop where attendees broke into 4 groups and either developed a concept vertical farm for Munich or a tool that would assist the VF industry. The workshop was well received and the ideas developed were well considered: most of the attendees had never heard of vertical farming before the conference day.
Interested in volunteering or participating in the November VF conference in NYC? Contact Henry at



Finally the host of the day, Frank Sprenger, founder of Sustainable, asked the experts of the day for a panel discussion to explain their ideas on the future development of VF. A lively discussion with the audience started and plans for a demo vertical farm in the city of Munich was introduced by the AVF. The city of Munich is now considering their first combined VF demonstration plant, which will cover 3 elements of VF: education, training, and research.


In a last session, the chairwoman of AVF summarized the day and pointed out how many new things we had learned during the AVF Infoday. There was clearly a need for more communication and information on the topic, but everybody had the feeling that this first step was great to draw more interest towards VF. Educating a broad interested audience on the many opportunities and solutions VF offers will soon be done in more workshops and info days around the world.


Microgreens anyone? Just reach under your desk chair or couch and munch away! These low-tech at-home food production designs by Jenna Spevack  explore just how close fresh food could be. 


Q&A: Inside Japan’s Largest Indoor Farm


An abandoned Sony factory in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, has been transformed into what could very well be the farm of the future.

Shigeharu Shimamura, a plant physiologist and CEO of Mirai, has constructed the world’s largest indoor farm—25,000 square feet of futuristic garden beds nurtured by 17,500 LED lights in a bacteria-free, pesticide-free environment. The result? About 10,000 heads of fresh lettuce harvested each day.

The unique “plant factory” is so efficient that it cuts food waste from the 30 to 40 percent typically seen for lettuce grown outdoors to less than 3 percent for their coreless lettuce.

National Geographic spoke with Shimamura recently about the innovative food factory and indoor farms as a potential solution to the global food crisis.

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