An Organic Indoor Vertical Farm May Be Coming to a City Near You
FarmedHere, a 90,000-square-foot space in Chicago, is not only the first organically-certified indoor vertical aquaponic farm in Illinois, it’s also the largest indoor farm in North America. The farm, which we featured on EcoWatch last month, has expansion plans. The company wants to open 18 indoor vertical farms in cities across the U.S.
"We want to be the national local brand," CEO Matt Matros told FastCoExist. "We can touch 75 percent of the country with 18 farms." At its Chicago farm, they sell their organic greens and herbs grown under LED lights to 200 customers (Whole Foods is one) all within a 200-mile radius of the farm.
That short travel distance not only reduces carbon emissions, it also allows for super fresh and nutritious produce. "If you think about traditional produce, which is grown in California, they harvest, and you're not eating it for three weeks," said Matros. FarmedHere delivers its produce to customers within 24 hours.
Sourcing produce locally also reduces the strain on drought-heavy regions like Mexico and California’s Central Valley, Matros told Tech Insider. Currently, more than one-third of U.S. produce is grown in these regions. For now, FarmedHere's main crops are basil, mint, lettuce and kale.
"If you harvest something and consume it right away, it's far more nutritious than if you harvest something and consume it 14 days later," he said. "Indoor local farms tend to be about 50 percent more nutritious than our outdoor counterparts on major vitamins—A,C, E, niacin, iron—that's mostly just because it's consumed as soon as possible."
Indoor hydroponic and aquaponic systems, which are sprouting up from Japan to Jackson, Wyoming, have many benefits over traditional outdoor farming. They use 95 percent less water and, since the company adheres to organic principles, the plants are grown without the use of synthetic herbicides or pesticides. And due to major advances in LED technology, the company can grow its plants in 30 days—half the time of traditional farms.
"Without the hassle of Mother Nature's changing climate, farmers can enjoy year-round growing seasons indoors, using less water, fewer pesticides and avoid biological invaders that cause diseases like Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria," reported Tech Insider.
The company said vertical farming is finally ready to scale, so they are "currently working with real estate agents to find land in cities across the country," FastCoExist reported. And they don't plan on limiting themselves to just the U.S. either.
"There's a substantive need for this," Matros said. "In northern Africa, where there's not a lot of access to fresh clean water ... in China and India, where there's just a lot of people. That's the beauty of this industry. Once we crack the code in the U.S., we can easily just drop these modules anywhere around the world."
FarmedHere, along with AeroFarms, Green Sense Farms and Spread are developing the technology to become robot-run farms. Matros told Tech Insider their next facility, which will be open next year, will employ technology used by the likes of Amazon, which uses factory robots to attend to packages in its massive headquarters.
Vertical farms have really taken off in recent years—even being hailed as the future of agriculture. AeroFarms, which is building a facility in Newark, New Jersey, plans to construct 25 vertical farms over the next five years. Sky Greens in Singapore has been hailed as the “the world’s first low-carbon hydraulic driven urban vertical farm.” Mirai has factories in Japan and Mongolia churning out 10,000 heads of lettuce a day. And in London, Growing Underground is utilizing a former World War II bomb shelter to grow food.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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