Inside a 300,000-square-foot greenhouse in Riverhead, Long Island, a farming revolution is flourishing. It’s not what’s being grown, but how it’s being grown, and when. When most traditional farmers on the East Coast wrap up their growing seasons in late fall, Carl Gabrielsen is just getting started. “There’s a tremendous market out here, we have, how many? 15 million people within a 40, 50 mile radius and we can’t feed them, we can’t feed ourselves anymore,” Gabrielsen said of the winter season. But that’s changing, he says. Gabrielsen’s family has grown flowers since the 1950s, but they used to take the winter off. Then a few years ago Gabrielsen discovered a method that would enable him to produce viable crops in the offseason, regardless of the weather: hydroponic farming. Hydroponic farming is the practice of growing plants indoors and without soil. It originated more than 60 years ago recently became more popular for growing food. “Hydroponic farming has been on the upswing in general, particularly because of severe weather patterns,” said Dickson Despommier, an emeritus professor of public health at Columbia University and the author of “The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century.” Growing hydroponically allows farmers to cheat the seasons, but it’s also brought fresh produce to places where there’s no room to grow the traditional way. Despommier helped create the concept of vertical farming, which is just what it sounds like, growing food from the bottom up. It’s happening around the world in cities like Newark where AeroFarms is opening one of the world’s largest vertical farms in the coming months. “That’s not going to be the only one, in another five years from now you’re going to see lots of those springing up all over the place,” Despommier said. “There is nothing you can’t […]
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