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Henry Gordon-Smith presenting Agritecture Designer recently

Why Agritecture is launching a urban farm design software program now

April 13, 2020

Editor’s Note: Henry Gordon-Smith is founder of urban farming consultancy Agritecture and is today launching a new urban farm planning software tool called Agritecture Designer

Every so often, something happens that changes everything. Maybe it was your wedding day, the birth of a child, a hurricane, or 9/11. COVID-19 is one of those moments, except it’s being experienced by every person, every government, and every business on planet earth. All change forces us to adapt or suffer the consequences.

As a college student in 2010, I noticed a slow change around me: the world was becoming more aware of its overuse of our limited resources and the likely looming consequences. Social entrepreneurship was having a renaissance of sorts, architects were dreaming of eco futures, and cities/governments were announcing bold “green” and “smart” initiatives.

I began researching the topic of urban agriculture and sharing what I learned on my Tumblr blog name, “Agritecture.” My main thesis was: “If we can quantify and define local food production into a series of typologies, databases, and methodologies, then we can take the energy and excitement about improving the world to help humans adapt to climate change.” What started as a humble blog became a dynamic global team empowering impact-driven organizations to develop feasible urban farming solutions––turning their business ideas into practical and sustainable realities.

Today, we are certainly not finished with that mission, but with the steady emergence of new local food entrepreneurs and a recognition of the value created by localizing agriculture, we are creeping closer. After all, sustainability was never about getting from point A to point B; it’s about developing and maintaining an ongoing process of efficiency and resilience.

Now, as we all face the effects of Covid-19 — and the frailty it has exposed in our current global food system — our mission has become even more critical. How can we help the whole world adapt to this current pandemic, and potential future disruption, by building resilient local farms and creating more agile supply chains?

Several months before the sweeping effects from Covid-19 took root, Agritecture started building its first software product, Agritecture Designer (Designer), to scale its impact globally and help users plan an urban farm. In the midst of this rapidly changing world, we believe the platform’s role has become even more important, as businesses rely even more heavily on new digital solutions and food production and supply chains become more challenged.

Designer is a one-of-a-kind urban agriculture business planning platform with free and paid-for features to give users a low-cost, data-driven way to plan their new urban farming venture, with three key features:

  1. Access over 2.5 hours of comprehensive insights and best practices – taught by six experts from our staff and derived from our years of planning farms around the world, and full of additional resources to learn from.

    Screenshot of Designer in action
  2. Understand the financial tradeoffs behind the various decisions you’ll need to make when planning a controlled environment farm through this automated financial projection tool.
  3. Conduct data-driven market research on nearly 100 crops to aid your feasibility projections.

Designer focuses on Controlled Environment Agriculture (greenhouses/vertical farms). This is where we have the most in-house knowledge from five years of urban agriculture consulting experience in 25+ countries. As more members join Designer, we will expand the typologies and features to include other sustainable forms of local agriculture (think: agroforestry, aquaculture, or insect farming).

A decade after I began my urban agriculture journey, it has never been more important for you to begin yours. Agritecture Designer is here to help. There are many lessons we can learn from the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the biggest being that we need more local food that can withstand shocks to our global system. Controlled Environment Agriculture can not only provide more fresh food closer to our cities, it can be resilient to the grand challenge of climate change. The Agritecture team has built something from the ground up to empower all who want to learn about this exciting opportunity to develop our local food systems with affordable tools. There has never been a better time to grow more local food.

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