Thursday, June 19, 2008

Las Vegas to Build World’s First 30 Story Vertical Farm

Las Vegas the tourist mecca of the World is set to begin development of the World’s first vertical farm. The $200 million dollar project is designed to be a functional and profitable working farm growing enough food to feed 72,000 people for a year and provide another tourist attraction to the city that does everything in a larger than life way.

Although the project initial cost is high at $200 million, with annual revenue of $25 million from produce and another $15 million from tourists the 30 story vertical farm would be about as profitable as a casino with operating expenses only being about $6 million a year.

There would be about 100 different crops grown ranging from strawberries to lettuce even miniature banana trees could be grown from each floors specially controlled environment. The products would go straight to the casinos and hotel properties and be a very visible and desirable addition to the overall Las Vegas experience. Design details should be worked out in 2008 and the project could open its doors by the middle of 2010.

Interesting. I am not sure that vertical farming makes sense on a large scale, given the cost of the building and urban land, but it is cool so I am glad they are giving it a try.

I'm curious how much energy vertical farming uses compared with traditional farming. Obviously there will be less for transporting the food, but controlling the environment of each floor must take something.

I also like how they have taken the Dwight Schrute approach and integrated farming with tourism. A little over a 1/3 of revenue is expected to come from tourism. Using tourism as an additional form of revenue would allow more environmentally conscious farmers throughout the country to achieve profitability.

I never thought the city of Las Vegas was environmentally sustainable being located in the middle of a desert. But, now I am questioning that for when energy comes from solar power being in the middle of a desert is suddenly an asset. Vegas has some of the highest levels of solar radiation in the country and therefore could be the first major city completely powered by solar energy. Las Vegas could even become a hub for solar companies, as seen by Ausra Inc opening a manufacturing plant for solar thermal power systems there.

via Environmental News Network

4 comments:

Roxanne Christensen said...

A complimentary solution with vertical farming is sub-acre farming, and a franchise-ready method now being practiced throughout the U.S. and Canada is called SPIN-Farming. SPIN stands for S-mall P-lot IN-tensive, and it makes it possible to earn significant income from growing vegetables on land bases under an acre in size. SPIN farmers utilize relay cropping to increase yield and achieve good economic returns by growing only the most profitable food crops tailored to local markets. SPIN's farming techniques are not, in themselves, breakthrough. What is novel is the way a SPIN farm business is run. SPIN provides everything you'd expect from a good franchise: a business plan, marketing advice, and a detailed day-to-day workflow. In standardizing the system and creating a reproducible process it really isn't any different from McDonalds. So by offering a non-technical, easy-to-understand and inexpensive-to-implement farming system, it allows many more people to farm, wherever they live, as long as there are nearby markets to support them, and it removes the two big barriers to entry – sizeable acreage and significant start-up capital.
So while vertical farming will take some time and considerable investment to get off the ground, sub-are farming is already showing how agriculture can be integrated into the built environment in an economically viable manner. This is not subsistence farming. This is recasting farming as a small business in cities and towns, "right sizing" agriculture for an urbanized century and making local food production a viable business proposition once again.

Jeremy Goodell said...

That's crazy, how are they going to get the crop dusters to fly over and dump pesticides?

What's next for Vegas? A 50-story dairy farm? The VIP cows would get penthouse rooms and comped feed in the lounge.

Fat Knowledge said...

Roxanne,

Interesting idea on SPIN farming. I am curious how the economics of it work out, and how much money a SPIN farmer can make. More fresh local fruits and vegetables sound good to me.

Jeremy,

Heh. Who ever knows what is next for Vegas? Odds are it will be bigger whatever it is.

Stephen said...

I really want to see this project succeed because I think this is could be a solution to are rising food shortage…I am trying to get the first working tower built: http://www.thepoint.com/campaigns/vertical-farm-in-new-york-city

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