GreenForges Digs Deep to Farm Underground

underground vertical farming

underground vertical farming

Vertical farms usually look up. Aerofarms, Plenty, Gotham Greens — these companies are trying to revolutionize agriculture by looking toward the sky, with tall warehouses full of growing equipment extending upward. But Philippe Labrie is looking down. Labrie is the CEO and founder of the pre-seed startup GreenForges, an underground farming company founded in 2019 looking to take vertical farming technology underneath buildings. Earlier in his career, Labrie thought he, too, would be looking to the sky for farming potential with rooftop greenhouses. But he found that the sky does, in fact, have a limit.

“I stumbled upon a paper that was analyzing how much food production capacity can we do in cities using rooftop greenhouses,” “It’s a relatively low number; we’re talking 2 to 5% range for the cities of 2050. No one was asking the question, ‘Can we grow underground?’”

Philippe Labrie

Agriculture has always been a business fueled and restricted by space. When agriculture first emerged around 12,000 years ago, farmers had to clear forests for cropland. That destructive process has continued to this very day. In order for farmers to grow more food and make more money, they need more land. Traditional vertical farming tried to solve this land conversion issue by moving farms to urban environments and stacking the crops on top of each other. But the warehouses still have to sit somewhere. GreenForges is trying to take advantage of space that would otherwise go unused, under our feet.

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GreenForges predicts that its underground system will increase energy efficiency by 30-40% compared to traditional vertical farms. Currently, the company is sticking with traditional indoor crops like leafy greens, herbs and berries. The company plans to produce about 2,400 heads of lettuce each month for a 100-foot farm, about 14,000 pounds a year. But Labrie hopes that with GreenForges’ increased efficiency, it will be able to graduate to other crops — even something as elusive and dramatic as wheat — in the future


underground vertical farming

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