Explore Vertical Farming Techniques

As available land gets taken up by development, innovative farmers look to the sky with vertical farming techniques that have minimal footprints while producing plenty of food.


| Fall 2015



Vertical garden

A vertical farm is the highlight of the US Pavilion at the Expo International in Milan. The wall is made from almost 1,500 individual zipgrow towers and totals nearly 10,000 square feet. It features 42 different vegetables, grains, and herbs grown from seed supplied by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Thanks to the US State Department for inviting us.

Photo by Quint Smith at Expo Milano

“I guess everyone has crazy brothers and sisters. I know I have. Stan, by the way, has taken out a patent on an invention of his called ‘Botanical Bricks,’ which are simply plant units capable of being built up to any height, for quick landscape effects, the vertical surfaces covered with flowering vines, or the like. He thinks that the idea has great possibilities for such things as world fairs, city yards, indoor gardens, and many other projects. I think perhaps he has got hold of something, and have written him for more information. He certainly deserves a break.”

— A letter from the brother of Stanley Hart White

Stanley Hart White, the father of vertical gardening, certainly was on to something. An influential landscape architecture professor from the University of Illinois, White’s “Botanical Bricks” would lay the foundation for this technologically innovative movement. White’s 1939 vertical gardening patent was indeed visionary. Still today, vertical gardens evoke for many a futuristic, sci-fi technology fit for a colony on the moon. Perhaps this explains the hint of skepticism and amazement in E.B White’s letter. The basic principles of White’s concept can be seen in most modern vertical garden designs. He envisioned a steel structure of any shape and size with a soil-less growing medium that would serve as a living wall.  This basic concept gives rise to endless interpretations, from permanent green walls to mobile vegetable towers. Sadly, White never brought his Botanical Bricks design to reality.  However, his ingenious idea laid the groundwork for many to come. 

While White patented the technology of vertical growing, Patrick Blanc, a French botanist, brought the brilliant idea of green walls to a fantastic reality. Blanc’s vertical gardens marry scientific innovation and stunning artistry. Blanc focuses on lush tropical varieties to create an exotic vertical dreamscape. The first installation of Blanc’s career was at the Museum of Science and Industry in Paris in 1988. Blanc continues to dazzle the urban landscape with his verdant artwork.

How do we bridge the gap between the futuristic art installation and feasibly feeding the booming urban population? Bright Agrotech is a Wyoming based company dedicated to bringing cutting edge urban farming technology to a practical level. Their Zipgrow vertical gardening towers are designed for simplicity in growing vegetables with limited space. Bright Agrotech founders Nate Storey and Chris Michael understand that eating local, growing your own produce, or just getting a bit of garden therapy in a city can be next to impossible. With mile-long community garden plot waiting lists and many community garden plots charging rent, many hopeful urban gardeners can find themselves at a loss. Zipgrow towers are designed with simplicity in mind. They can be used in the home, warehouses, storage containers or used as a green wall outdoors. 

While working on his masters degree focusing on vertical gardening, Nate Storey observed that most four- sided growing towers were experiencing loss of light on at least two sides at one time. His Zipgrow towers are unique in their one sided design which makes for healthier plants with better light exposure.





elderberry, echinacea, bee hive

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

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