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The future of agriculture may look a little different from what you first imagined. While humans do rely mostly on big farms and ranches to cover our food needs, there are other options. We're talking about vertical farming.
If you're not familiar with vertical farming, it's a way of growing food inside of vertical indoor spaces, like tall buildings. Vertical farms usually work with what's known as a hydroponic system, which uses artificial lighting and water instead of sunlight and soil to help the plants grow inside. With this kind of production, all kinds of foods can be grown no matter the season. It also helps save a lot of space to increase crop output in smaller areas.
Food can even be grown in super urban, densely crowded areas using this method. As the world's population grows and food becomes less available to everyone, vertical farming could be a major part of getting us the nutrition we need.
Now, Taiwan has found an interesting place to kick off its own vertical farming project – a metro station that's totally underground. Located in Taipei, Nanjing Fuxing station's "Metro Fresh" farm has been growing veggies since it was introduced last month. The plants are grown using state-of-the-art technology that creates humidity control, temperature management and a generally healthy, nutrient-rich environment.
Because this farm uses a hydroponic system and is indoors, there's no real risk of bugs getting into the plants. So, Metro Farm doesn't need to use any pesticides or herbicides. "One thing that most people are worried about is the unavoidable use of pesticides in traditional land-based farming," explained Julia Yang, an exec of Unimicron Technology, the company that created the farm.
Mostly, lettuce is grown here. But where does it end up? Well, it's all for sale in a higher level of this metro station, so commuters can see the lettuce being grown and then go upstairs to buy it. Plus, Metro Farm is a great educational opportunity for kids, who can take tours to learn about all the science involved.