Future Crops, Ltd., has taken its vertical farm a further step off the grid by shifting to reliance on 100% renewable energy. Harnessing the natural green powers of solar and wind energy, the company also is solving the primary hurdle to bringing the industry to a substantially greater carbon-neutral position, all while advancing its sustainability goals.
Over the past decade, vertical farms have been cropping up as creative method of boosting food resilience and bringing food sources closer to home. Multistory indoor farming optimises land use by growing food from the ground up in designated horticultural regions or even within dense urban localities. However, this method of growing crops in a controlled indoor environment can be energy intensive.
Future Crops operates a state-of-the art, multilevel indoor vertical farm in ABC Westland, Netherlands, the greenhouse hub of Europe. The facility grows a broad portfolio of pesticide-free leafy green vegetables and herbs. While many such facilities rely on hydroponics, the scale-up developed a unique, proprietary soil substrate in which to grow crops, bringing the vertical farm concept closer to nature and the earth.
The environmental virtues
Future Crops began operations in 2018 with zealous ambitions to completely “green up” the entire process and reach zero carbon emissions. This spurred the company to choose a site that was already crowned with an impressive structure of 18,000 solar panels that could substantially limit its reliance on conventional fossil fuel forms of energy.
In 2019 Future Crops received the final go-ahead to get connected. This year the company also started exploiting wind energy generated by local farming communities, bringing reliance on renewable energy to 100%. The success of these measures was reflected in a recently conducted projection-based analysis.
“We bolstered our farm’s infrastructure and insulation capabilities,” explains Gary Grinspan, co-founder and CEO of Future Crops. “We also sought solutions to further improve our cultivation processes to be more energy-efficient, including boosting yields. At the same time, we began a gradual migration to renewable energy.”
Future Crops further notes that all its resources are reused and recycled, including 97% of the water. Soil substrate that has undergone several growth cycles is sold to other growers who treat and reuse it. The company’s commitment even goes to overcoming food waste. Produce that does not meet the visual specifications for retail is sold to food producers.