By Zak Stone
City-state Signapore is one the world's most urbanized nations. Unsurprisingly, it imports more than 90% of the produce it consumes, despite its tropical locale and the importance of vegetables in the eclectic, local cuisine.
But a new collaboration between government and an engineering firm aims to reclaim food production in the city--by assembling vertical greenhouse farms, operated by a company called Sky Greens.
What makes Sky Greens' operation unique is the design: inside the greenhouses, nine-meter tall aluminum towers support tiers of veggies that rotate slowly to distribute sunlight evenly--a technology they've named "A-Go-Gro." A hydraulic pulley system collects rainwater from outside to power the rotation, relying on minimal electricity.
According to the company, yields on the AGG system are so strong, that if it were used across just 50 hectares (about 124 acres) of land, it would supply half of Singapore's green leafy vegetables. Conventional farming methods currently yield just 7% of Singapore's vegetables on twice as much land. But that's the pipe-dream. For now, the growers expect to produce two tons of vegetables per day starting early next year.
The system was officially launched as a commercial operation on October 24, when it began harvesting three varieties of Asian greens and delivering them daily to local markets. Other plans include a variety of collaborations with local educational institutions to expose students to gardening and give them a chance to learn about green urbanism.
Copyright 2012 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.