Vertical farming for future cities


Could vertical greenhouses help cities meet future food challenges? Image: Plantagon International.

“Far from lagom” (lagom meaning something like “just enough”, or moderate) is the slogan of the municipality of Botkyrka in the outskirts of Stockholm. So when they started thinking about urban food safety the idea that came up was also far from lagom: A sphere-shaped vertical greenhouse, about the size of the Stockholm landmark Globen.

But why a giant glass ball filled with vegetables? United Nations expects that the world’s cultivable area won’t be enough to feed a growing global population. At the same time an increasing part of this population lives in cities and transports will be more expensive because of a peaking oil production, so why not produce the food directly where it’s needed?

According to Hans Hassle, CEO of the company Plantagon that makes the sphere greenhouse, this type of greenhouse can get up to four times as productive as an ordinary one, providing as much as ten times the cultivable area compared to the surface needed for the building itself.

Now the Swedish Delegation for Sustainable Cities have granted the Plantagon project 150 000 SEK (about 21 500 USD) to investigate if a greenhouse like this might be something for Botkyrka. The municipality sees it as a way of renewing the million programmes in this area. So who knows, maybe we’ll have a new – food producing – landmark in Stockholm in a few years?