For the highly urbanized Singapore, where only 7% of the vegetables are locally produced, a vertical farm grown at just 20 miles away seems a real blessing.
Photo source: www.inhabitat.com
Entrepreneur Jack Ng is founder of Sky Greens, the world’s first commercial vertical farm. The farm is set in an agro-technology park which is an open area situated few miles away from the shadow of city skyscrapers.
How it started
Jack Ng started building the farm’s prototype in 2009 with the precise purpose to achieve green sustainable production of vegetables for the dense Singapore city. In 2010, Mr Jack Ng signed a Research Collaborative Agreement with Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA). In 2011 the test-bed was successfully proven and in 2012 was commercialized.
At the Ministry of National Development (MND) Urban Sustainability R&D Congress in June 2011, the company, together with AVA, won the Minister for National Development’s R&D Award 2011 (Merit Award) for Vertical Farming.
Sky Greens innovative system
Sky Greens was built to respect the three R: reduce, reuse and recycle.
For the moment Sky Greens is made up of 120 aluminum towers named A-Go-Gro vertical systems that stretch thirty feet tall (9 m). These systems are based in protected-outdoor green houses that allow tropical leafy vegetables to be grown all year round.
The trays with vegetables are stacked inside of the aluminum A-frames, which are slowly rotated by a belt to permits the plants to pass through a trough of water every eight hours.
Thanks to the low carbon hydraulic water-driven green technology, the water used to power the frames is recycled, filtered and returned to the plants. Also, the organic waste on the farm is composed and reused.
The close proximity to the consumers translates into a minimum C02 emitted in production and transportation.
The farm is also advantaged by the abundant natural heating and light specific to a tropical region.
Mr Jack Ng believes that an expansion of its system of vertical farming could increase the vegetables locally production at 50%. For the moment the actual production of Sky Greens reaches about 1 ton per day and is sold in local supermarkets.
Encouraged by the high demand for fresh veggies, the entrepreneur plans an expansion up to 2,000 towers in the next few years and also hopes that his innovative system would be adopted at least in the Southeast Asia.
Social and educational involvement
Sky Greens has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with School of Applied Science that covers various areas as research and consultancy services, or staff and student attachment. Sky Greens also assist ex-offenders by giving them an opportunity to obtain gainful employment.
In the world vertical farms are still up for debate whether are more efficient than traditional greenhouses, mostly because it is hard to find a good solution to ensure enough light and water for plants.
But Sky Greens has proved so far that a vertical farm it is a viable solution to ensure food supply for a dense city. Will you buy veggies grown in a vertical farm?
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