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Paul Gauthier launched Princeton’s Vertical Farming Project to explore the economics of indoor agriculture. Photo by Lauren Lancaster

Trouble in the High-Rise Hothouse

Big indoor farms are attracting big investments. But transforming agriculture might depend on putting nanofarms everywhere — maybe even in your home.

Corby Kummer
Dec 6, 2018 · 13 min read

“Stupid designs”

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A set of test shelves in Gauthier’s lab. Photo by Lauren Lancaster

Vertical farms might work as a technical concept. Thriving as businesses that transform agriculture is another matter.

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Inside AeroFarms’ facility in Newark. The company’s CEO has said most startups in the industry won’t survive three years. Photo courtesy of AeroFarms

Lettuce, microgreens, and herbs have a high markup, and being highly perishable suits them to very short transport time from indoor farm to store. But not many other commercial crops check those same boxes.

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Peppers harvested from Gauthier’s lab. He tinkers with the pH of the growth medium to manipulate the peppers’ spiciness. Photo by Lauren Lancaster

Micro-farm in the rec room

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Gauthier checks the roots on two new plants. Photo by Lauren Lancaster
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Turning basil into data

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One of Caleb Harper’s “food computers” that captures data about growing conditions. Photo by MIT Open Agriculture Initiative (CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0)

“Why are you telling the Muggles our secrets?”

NEO.LIFE

Making sense of the neobiological revolution.

Corby Kummer

Written by

Editor-in-chief, Ideas: The Magazine of the Aspen Institute, senior editor, The Atlantic, five-time James Beard Journalism Award winner, restaurant critic

NEO.LIFE

NEO.LIFE

Making sense of the neobiological revolution.

Corby Kummer

Written by

Editor-in-chief, Ideas: The Magazine of the Aspen Institute, senior editor, The Atlantic, five-time James Beard Journalism Award winner, restaurant critic

NEO.LIFE

NEO.LIFE

Making sense of the neobiological revolution.

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