World's First Solar-Powered Indoor Vertical Farm Comes To Philly

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May. 25 2019, Updated 5:28 a.m. ET

Metropolis Farms continues to pave the way for sustainable farming in big cities. They created the nation’s first vegan-certified farm, which was also Philadelphia’s first indoor vertical farm. Now they’ve stepped it up even further with a farm completely running on renewable solar power.

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The new indoor farm will provide fresh crops all year long in South Philly. It’s equivalent to 660 acres of traditional farmland, all of it is just stacked on top of each other. It’ll be powered by 2,003 solar panels that are installed on a gigantic 100,000 square-foot rooftop. It’ll supply a half-megawatt to power the farm on the building’s fourth floor.

With everything completed on the rooftop, the farm is now currently being constructed. The company is scheduled to plant their crops in November, which will provide a wide variety of vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, and herbs. Metropolis Farms explains in a blog post why growing crops locally is better than importing it from other places.

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“[Our] technology democratizes the ability to grow local food in any community, regardless of location or climate. We’re doing this because local food is just better. Local food is more nutritious than food that’s packed in a truck and travels for weeks, it tastes better, and growing food in the communities where it’s eaten helps stimulate the local economy.”

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The technology system Metropolis Farms uses allows it to grow just about any crop. Over the course of five years, they launched 24 different versions of their indoor farm and continue to look for ways to improve. They don’t have to worry about spraying pesticides, maintenance is very simple, it’s easy to construct, and the biggest advantage is being able to recycle water throughout the facility.

With renewable energy powering the indoor farm, this would likely solve an issue some have with how much power it takes to operate them. While there is the built-in advantage of circulating water, energy is required to pump in through and to keep the lights on. Ultimately, Metropolis Farms’ goal is to create a zero-carbon vertical farm.

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The company’s first vertical farm in Philadelphia was on the second floor of an abandoned warehouse. It became the United States’ first vegan-certified farm, meaning that there were no pesticides, animal manure, or any animal bi-products used. They operate the farm in just 36 square feet of space, but they have 120,000 plants.

Metropolis Farms is attempting to fix the negatives in vertical farming and is hoping that with their demonstrations, there will be more projects opening up in urban areas. By providing renewable energy to power the entire farm, it’s another great step for its future.

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