Assessing the energy demands of indoor vertical farming
Traceability, indoor farming, vertical farming, energy use
Related Course Concepts
Mission and Vision of Organization
Connecting people to their food and their farmer while bringing pure, sustainable and nutrient rich foods to communities around the world.
To make a positive global impact on the nutrition and availability of local produce in the most sustainable way possible.
Guiding Principles + Values
Sustainability, traceability, innovation, honesty, science.
- Primary Contact Person(s): Lena Syrovy or Bailey Fischl
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- Phone: (306)290-8786
- Address: #230 - 111 Research Drive, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 3R2
- Website: https://www.purerootsfarms.com/
Preferred Method of Contact
- Best method(s) to contact: Email
- Best day(s) to contact:Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays
- Best time(s) to contact: Mornings, Afternoons
Context: What challenge or issue does the project aim to address?
Environmental conditions, seasonality, and availability of land and water resources limit where and when food can be grown. As a result, perishable foods are often grown far from where they will be eaten and transported long distances to the consumer. Especially out of season, produce can be in transit under refrigeration for several days before it reaches the store, lowering quality and consuming energy in the process. Indoor, aeroponic vertical farming can begin to address these challenges by allowing perishable foods to be produced year-round where they will be eaten. Aeroponic growing reduces water and fertilizer inputs by 95 and 85% respectively, and can grow an equivalent amount of produce annually on less than 5% of the land compared with outdoor growing.
Pure Roots Urban Farms develops small footprint, modular farms using aeroponic technology to grow fresh produce in urban areas. Despite its benefits, indoor production requires energy to manufacture and transport all the components and growing inputs, as well as operate the system. At Pure Roots we are very interested in better understanding our energy consumption, and finding ways to lower it.
Currently based in Saskatoon, SK, we are establishing a location in Surrey, BC during the 2020 growing season. As we prepare to open our new facility, we want to have a better understanding of:
- How much energy we consume in growing, packaging, and transporting produce
- How the energy consumed by our local vertical farming model compares with the alternative of sourcing from outdoor local growers for half the year, and importing produce the other half
Main Project Activities
Reviewing research, finding information, calculating energy consumption for different models, making comparisons, making recommendations
Expected Project Deliverable(s)
- Written report
- Oral presentation with Q&A
Student Assets and Skills (preferred or required)
- Interest in indoor farming, technology-based agriculture and food security
Student Assets and Skills (to be developed through the project)
- CO2 footprinting, life cycle assessment, or other form of energy assessment
- Comparing and contrasting different food production and distribution systems
Are there any mandatory attendance dates (e.g. special event)?
Is a criminal record check required?
- Flexible. Zoom video conferencing and/or possibly in-person for meetings.
Preferred Days of Week and Hours
Related Community Service Opportunities for Students
- None at this time
Project/Partner Orientation Materials
Students should review these materials prior to the first partner meeting:
- Pure Roots Urban Farms website
- Video on Farm Boys Design Corp. (technology & development of the AeroPod grow rooms we use) with AgWest Bio
- Global news story
- We will also create a One Drive folder that includes more information about Pure Roots to provide to the students
Additional Project/Partner Orientation Materials
The following will be provided at the first community partner meeting:
- We’re hoping to do a facility tour pending construction timelines
I hope students will learn about...
- applying scientific research to compare and form an opinion on different food production methods.
I think students will come to appreciate...
- the complexities of food production and distribution and the benefits and drawbacks of vertical farming in addressing some of the challenges.
Through this project, students will develop...
- a better understanding of the energy consumed by growing plants (crop inputs) in different production systems; harvesting and packaging produce; and transportation and delivery in different food distribution models.
Intended Project Outcome
The project will increase our understanding of how much energy we spend, and where. It will identify key areas to focus our efforts as we consider:
- How can we lower our energy consumption?
- Where we can have the biggest impact?
Medium Term Outcome
We are interested in using a data-driven approach to make our farming and food delivery operations as sustainable as possible. Our Surrey farm will be our first and we hope that the results of this project will shape our long-term technology and operational choices to minimize our carbon footprint at this location and as we roll out more farms in the future.
How does the student project contribute to your organization's mission and long-term vision?
This project will help shape our long-term technology and operational choices to minimize our carbon footprint as we strive to make a positive global impact on the nutrition and availability of local produce in the most sustainable way possible.