Editor’s Note: Lorena Galvan works at Thought for Food, a global movement that engages and empowers university students from around the world in the mission of feeding 9 billion people by 2050. The organization partnered with the Association for Vertical Farming and Illumitex on its recent awards.
“More with less.” In today’s modern agriculture and food system, this phrase bears the burden of being the summary, the catch-all, and goal of the collective effort to create a better food system. Technologies can drive us towards greater efficiency, businesses can promote increased sustainability, and systems lend themselves to better integration; all in an attempt to survive in a food system facing the external challenges of climate change, land scarcity, and costly transportation.
One solution to these challenges is creating a food production system that uses less land, water, transportation, and energy, supplementing conventional agricultural systems and our total food system.
By leveraging advances in LED lighting, precision agriculture, big data, and renewable energy to fuel a rapidly growing space in plant and protein production system, vertical farming can play an important role in addressing these challenges. However, for vertical farming to remain vibrant and impactful, it needs the support of cutting edge innovators.
This vision promoted the Association for Vertical Farming (AVF) and Illumitex to create the 2016 Vertical Farming Award competition. It attracted 100 applications of unique ideas, ranging from utopian ideas to tangible, ready-to-adopt systems for households, from 25 different countries.
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The applications comprised of design proposals as well as video pitches and were evaluated by an external panel of judges on four main criteria: Economic Viability — including yields, energy, jobs and locality, Sustainability, Aesthetics and Design Innovation, and Ability — to educate the general public. On May 30th three prizes were awarded:
1st Place Innovators Award: $5,000 sponsored by Illumitex
Inter-Farm-Market of Malaysia wants to create office and shopping centers, or “community facilities”, with vertical farms integrated into the architecture that supplies fresh produce to retailers in the same building.
2nd Place Changemakers Award: $3,000 sponsored by Thought For Food
VeGaN of the Netherlands has designed a vertical farming system to be implemented in isolated countries like Iceland, using an array of innovative technologies to support a country importing almost all its vegetables.
3rd Place Explorer Award: $1,500 sponsored by Globumbus
IMPACKT Farm of Spain has developed a vertical farming system, complete with aquaponics, which can grow to fit any space or environment.
The winning teams will attend the AVF Summit on June 13th in Amsterdam, the biggest gathering of vertical farming experts in the year, to present their concepts, gain valuable feedback, and build their networks.
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