In a unique union of urban agriculture and indoor farming, the world’s first vertical farm – a 30-story building designed to be a functional and profitable working farm – has been approved for development in Las Vegas.
The design will be finalized during 2008 and the farm could be producing its first crops by 2010. Food production is predicted to provide for around 72,000 people per year as well as adding a major tourist attraction to the city.
State officials are supporting the project, keen to demonstrate their goals in environmental sustainability and to counter the image of excess and waste usually associated with Las Vegas.
While the project has a high initial cost of around $200 million, the predicted annual revenue of $25 million from produce and another $15 million from tourists and low operating costs of around $6 million a year mean the farm would be similarly profitable to a casino.
Control of different floors to replicate various climates means around 100 crops will be grown throughout the building – ranging from strawberries to lettuce and even miniature banana trees. Produce will be delivered directly to the casinos and hotel properties.
If successfully implemented, the vertical farm project group say this approach offers the promise of urban renewal, sustainable production of a safe and varied local food supply (year-round crop production), relieving the pressure on land-use for horizontal farming and the eventual repair of ecosystems that have often been sacrificed.