Indoor Urban Agriculture: One way to have an extensive food growing in the city.



Food is a basic need of every human being that must be fulfilled every day. Therefore, food production must continue to increase in number from day to day to meet all of these great needs. In 2050, the World Health Organization estimates, there will be 9 billion people on Earth where 70 percent of the amount will be living in urban areas. With this much amount, whether the food needs will be met if we only rely on conventional agriculture where mostly located in the suburbs? The need for food in 2050 according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is 3 billion tones where food availability now approximately 2.1 billion tones. So, we had to increase approximately 1 billion tones to meet the needs of the food.

Indoor urban agriculture is not a new thing in the world. However, some companies have managed to prove that through the indoor urban agriculture, they also have helped provide food in the country. By using the abandoned buildings where widely spread all over the city, they start this activity, even become a very big business.

As we know, the indoor urban agriculture is not a process of growing plants in a natural way in the whole system. Some tools should still be used so that they can create a habitat which is so similar to the original. Therefore, the advantages and disadvantages do exist. That thing I will try to explain one by one later. I will also try to give some examples of companies which have managed to do indoor urban agriculture.

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Almost all the companies engaged in this field using hydroponics and aquaponics to grow these plants. Hydroponics is a method of farming without using the soil as a growing medium, but using mineral nutrient fluid. Similar to hydroponics, but aquaponics  can not necessarily be used after all growing media available and vitamins given. In aquaponics method, we have to wait about 1 month so that the protein in the water is already well developed. In addition, they also use artificial light instead of the sun which can not get from the the room.


From several articles, mentioned that the first advantage of the indoor urban agriculture is the farmers do not have to be afraid of unavailability of the land for planting. Many of them use the abandoned buildings where scattered throughout the city. Second, because it is in the room, growers are not afraid with the state of the weather, climate or natural disasters so that they can plant any time and under any circumstances. Third, from several crops that have been passed, the results obtained from the indoor urban agriculture proved more. As said by Mark Thomann, chief executive officer of FarmedHere, “We can grow 200 percent more food per square foot than traditional agriculture, and without the use of chemical fertilizers.”

But, beside all these advantages there are still disadvantages generated by indoor urban agriculture. First, indoor urban agriculture requires modern technologies to create a suitable habitat for the plant. As a simple example, they need a light which is on within several hours to replace the function of the sun in conventional agriculture. In addition to the best LED which suit with this function is still under study, we can imagine how much energy and money will be spent on these lights. Although several studies have been successful in increasing the presentation of the efficiency, but still this has not been maximum. Second, not all plants can be grown indoors. Some of the plant grown in the room now is basically an outdoor plant. Therefore, J. Michael Gould, director of Texas A & M’s AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas said that the breeding programs need to begin to breed plants for indoor environments.




FarmedHere is the Largest Indoor aquaphonic vertical farm in the United State. Started their business by using an abandon warehouse, now FarmedHere has become a big business. As mentioned previously, FarmedHere also using hydroponics and aquaponics to grow crops. Some plants which planted by FarmedHere are baby leaf lettuces are, mustard greens, mild Brassica greens, basil, mint and Arugula.

There’s something interesting from an aquaponics method used by FarmedHere. They use a closed-loop method aquaponic system. The process from this system is the tilapia (a type of fish) are kept in a large tank to produce waste. Water containing waste from the tilapia is supplied to the planting medium. Those Water is excellent as growing media because it contains a lot of protein. From there, the plants will help to filter the water. The clean water filtered by the plants will be flowed back to the tilapia’s tank and so on.


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Disasters that often occur in Japan make agricultural land does not get the crop. This inspired Shigeharu Shimamura, a Japanese plant physiologist to start indoor urban agriculture. Finally, he changed a former Sony Corporation semiconductor factory into the world’s Largest indoor farm. This Indoor Agriculture has an almost equally large with a big a football field (25,000 Square Feet).

The project began when General Electric (GE) invited him to cooperate. Shimamura said that he knew how to grow a good crop with the knowledge he has. Now, he wants to integrate science with technology in order to create a better plant. From this collaboration, GE provide  all LED lights needed by the plants. GE even do their own research in order to create an LED lamp which is necessary, but still thin enough to be easily applied on the shelves of the growing media. GE’s LED lights provide uniform light and eendure the high humidity inside

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Shimamura focuses on planting lettuce in his indoor agriculture. With this method, Shimamura claims that he can produce lettuce that contain vitamins and minerals two-and-a-half times faster than an outdoor farm. He also said that by using this method, it can cut the discarded produce from 50 percent to just 10 percent of the harvest, Compared to a conventional farm. He can get all of that by controlling temperature, humidity and irrigation properly. This farm can also cut its water usage to just 1 percent of the amount needed by the outdoor fields.



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Big box Farm. An indoor agriculture business owned by Jordan Motzkin, 22 years in New York. He won a sum of money from the National Science Foundation and the College of the Atlantic for his startup, Big Box Farms.

Motzkin dream is to plant millions of organic lettuce and basil. He will start this business from an old Brooklyn warehouse. Motzkin cooperate with Philips Electronics to provide the latest LED lighting technology which has not even been marketed to the public. Motzkin claimed that the new technology can increase the percentage of energy efficiency from 40% to 60%. All of these operations will be done by Motzkin through in their iPhone Application – from indoor climate control and LED lighting to Hydroponics.


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Basically, each indoor method or outdoor method has its own advantages and disadvantages. Until now, it has not been established which the best method to use. However, for me, given the need of the food is increasing from day to day, it would be better if these two methods can cooperate with each other and meet the needs of the food rather than constantly looking for which one is better.

5 thoughts on “Indoor Urban Agriculture: One way to have an extensive food growing in the city.

  1. This blog is good to read knowing what is going on for the Urban Agriculture. I do agree that the indoor farming is a good way to produce food for the city, however, personally speaking, the biggest disadvantage of the Indoor Urban Agriculture is the high cost in building and maintenance. That is to say, the Indoor Urban Agriculture may be only suiable for developed areas or countries.

  2. Hello, Dodo.
    This blog is pretty good for us to know more about indoor urban agriculture. To be honest, I know little about urban agriculture before. After this semester, I got a little bit more about urban agriculture during the case study. However, I do not visit urban agriculture like this – Indoor Farming. As you said, 70 percent of people will live in urban areas in the future, there are no more areas for people to plant agriculture outside door. Indoor urban agriculture will be the trend in the future and we will welcome to the world of indoor farming. It will take root in abandoned buildings, warehouses, empty lots and high rises.
    In addition, from an economic standpoint, it will bring us to think about expensive price. However, from an environmental standpoint, if people grow food close to stores and without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, it will protect the environment. It can be profitable.

  3. Hi Xianghe Wang, i agree a part of your comment. However, indoor agriculture won’t cost much if farmers use manual methods instead of use high technology. In my opinion, people nowadays have many eco-invention that can save their budget. As an architect, we can propose some solutions such as natural illumination for sunlight or using solar panel for heater. Meanwhile, water source can be collected from rain water or using the method of recycling water. It means that we are fully capable of providing the necessary environment for the cultivation of the plant. Therefore, it is impossible to reduce the cost for indoor farming but get the same effective with using technology.
    However, it can’t deny the fact is indoor farming will take a lot of obstacles. For example, eco equipments only work really effective in a certain number of conditions.Another problem is we have to provide a suitable building infrastructure for indoor farming.

  4. Hi, Dodo
    You well analysis the advantage and disadvantage of the indoor agriculture and provide some examples. I learn more about indoor agriculture deeply. Basically, I think indoor agriculture that has a huge potential in the development of agriculture in the future. I also think it is a huge revolution for agriculture. It is solved the problem of lack of earth and the crisis of food. Moreover, it is not only providing the food, but also offer some position for job that also increasing the rate of employment. In addition, a lot of people haven’t seen the indoor agriculture, so attract people to visit. However, the technology is not very mature nowadays. Building the indoor agriculture need spend a large number of money. And we also lack of the technical staff. It is also have some problem in some ways. But I think it can be solved in the future, there will more people devote into indoor agriculture.

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