Growing the Trees Needed for Reforestation Efforts

The blue spruce is the largest known tree of its species in the country. This tree is recognized not only for its size but also the critical ecosystem services that it provides, such as food and shelter for wildlife, water purification abilities, and its role in absorbing CO2 from our atmosphere and storing carbon in its wood, according to AmericanForests.org.

Our Vertical Hydroponic Farm (VHF) farm is capable of housing up to 4,800 seeds in the seed table and 4,104 plants in the grow walls.  The farm’s climate can be adjusted to provide the ideal temperature, watering schedule, and nutrients for successful tree production. With a germination period of 10-14 days and a 95% success rate, followed by 60 days in the grow walls, FarmBox Foods makes reforestation possible anywhere, anytime, year-round. Annually grow up to 35,000 trees in 320 square feet while using only 3-5 gallons of water per day.

  • Efficiently manage the labor of your farm averaging 8-10 hours per week with the ability to remotely monitor your farms conditions.
  • One full time employee can effectively manage up to 4 farms, producing up to 140,000 saplings annually.
  • Greatly reduces the labor and need for acreage compared to traditional nurseries, while providing the ideal climate needs through any season in any location.

Traditional tree nurseries, when funded under federal or state cost-share programs, are required to have a minimum of 300 well-spaced seedlings per acre (1 acre = 43,560 square feet) in the first growing season.  Tree spacing most commonly used ranges from 435 to 726 trees per acre for reforestation purposes as well as wildlife enhancement programs.  In the FarmBox Foods Vertical Hydroponic Farm, you can accommodate over 8,900 seedlings and saplings in 320 square feet.

Impacts of climate change

Climate change is leading to unprecedented threats to our forests, including rising temperatures, prolonged drought, increased pests, and larger, more severe wildfires.  As of 2021, 128 million acres in the United States have the potential to be reforested.  To fulfill half of this need, we have to more than double our current production

National labor shortages are cited as the largest barrier to expanded seedling production.  Workforce limitations, including seasonal laborers, are a significant factor across America’s nursery infrastructure.  Retiring institutional knowledge is also creating additional barriers for successful operations to continue at today’s demands.

Disease and insect infestation kill more trees annually than forest fires.  When temps are high and tree sap is flowing, leaves and fruits are in full bloom. These are all attractants to tree-killing bugs.  The recent epidemic of pine beetles is a prime example of the devastation a little bug can wreak on tree populations.  Millions of trees were lost to the mountain pine beetle alone over the last 20 years. 

Fire is an inevitable part of what makes a forest a forest.  However, climate change and other human activity has been enabling even naturally caused fires to occur more frequently and intensely.  Wildfires also burn the carbon stored in trees and soil, releasing large amounts of smoke, methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which impacts the overall global temperature. 

Trees grown in a Vertical Hydroponic Farm can have a significant impact on revitalizing these forests and restoring the overall ecosystem.

Projected Water Scarcity Prompts Need for Farming Ingenuity

The common refrain that fresh water is the next gold is ringing true as drastic changes in our climate are resulting in greater competition and a need for more efficient water uses, especially in the agricultural industry.

National Geographic points out that while the amount of fresh water on the planet has remained fairly constant over time — continually recycling through the atmosphere and back into our oceans, lakes and rivers — the global population has exploded in the last century. This means that competition for a clean supply of water for drinking, cooking, bathing and sustaining life intensifies every year. There is only so much water to go around.

Essentially, when taking saltwater into account, only about .007 percent of the earth’s water supply is usable for the planet’s 6.8 billion (and counting) people, National Geographic says.

The vast majority of freshwater  — about 70 percent by most estimates — is used for agriculture, and when you consider that feeding a planet of 9 billion people in 2050 will require an estimated 50 percent increase in agricultural production and a corresponding 15 percent increase in water withdrawals, the future becomes a lot clearer, according to World Bank.

Without proper governance, there is likely to be increased competition for water between sectors and an escalation of water crises of various kinds, triggering emergencies in a range of water-dependent sectors, according to a U.N. report.

Emerging technologies are quickly trying to find ways to get the most bang for each drop of water. Efficiencies have been identified, including vertical hydroponic farming, which drastically reduces the amount of water needed to grow crops. FarmBox Foods, a Colorado company that builds automated hydroponic farms inside repurposed shipping containers, has set its sights on creating a tangible shift in the approach to farming.

FarmBox Foods’ innovative, closed-watering system only uses 3-5 gallons of water per day and it does not contribute to groundwater contamination the way that traditional farming does. Furthermore, one farm is able to produce the same yield as 2 – 2.5 acres of farmland on an annual basis.

“Our container farms are built in such a way that it takes only a fraction of the amount of water to grow that same amount of produce,” said Rusty Walker, CEO of FarmBox Foods.

Climate change is projected to increase the number of water-stressed regions and exacerbate shortages in already water-stressed regions. It’s those regions that will realize the most benefit from vertical hydroponic farming and more efficient water usage in general.

An integrated view on water, the biosphere and environmental flows is necessary to devise sustainable agricultural and economic systems that will allow us to decelerate climate change, protect us from extremes and adapt to the unavoidable at the same time, the U.N. says.

The automated hydroponic farms use approximately 90 percent less water than traditional farms, and have a secondary benefit, as they can grow trees that contribute to the overall health of the environment by helping reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. One container farm from FarmBox Foods can grow 35,000 tree saplings per year.

For more information, go to www.UNwater.org or www.FarmBoxFoods.com.

Is Vertical Hydroponic Farming the Future of Agriculture?

We face multiple agriculture-related obstacles in the fight to feed the world’s increasing population: climate change, lack of farmable space, water usage, supply chain concerns, and food contamination. FarmBox Foods believes that vertical hydroponic farming is the answer to these problems.

Climate Change

We all know that climate change is causing increasing temperatures across the globe. Another unfortunate but less talked about issue caused by higher temperatures is an increase in pests. Our farms are built inside sturdy, insulated shipping containers, making them immune to the weather unpredictability and pest infestations that plague traditional farming.

Available Space

The UN reports that by 2050, the world’s population will reach nine billion, and food production will need to increase by seventy percent. To meet this increase in food production, farmers will need more land, but there is unfortunately not enough farmable land to meet this need. Hydroponic vertical farms can be placed in nearly any location and are stackable for added efficiency. Inner cities, drought-stricken areas, places with extreme temperatures, and hard to reach locations are not an issue for these types of farms.

Water Usage & Contamination

Traditional agriculture is the number one user of the Earth’s freshwater. A NASA report states that the demand for freshwater will increase by 55% by 2050. Water shortages are already a concern in the United States as well as in developing countries. These shortages will only get worse as many areas continue to suffer from widespread and long-lasting droughts. Vertical farming drastically reduces the amount of water needed to grow crops — FarmBox Foods’ innovative, closed watering system only uses 3-5 gallons of water per day and does not contribute to groundwater contamination.

Supply Chain Concerns

Our farms can be placed near distribution centers, schools, grocery stores, and shelters. By using a farm-to-table approach, produce from the farm can be served at your table the same day it is harvested. Not only does this allow the plants to keep all of their nutrients, but it cuts down on plastic packaging and transportation costs. Food Safety Studies show that foodborne illnesses sicken 1 in 10 people across the globe and kill 420,000 people every year. Some causes of foodborne illness include bacteria, viruses, chemicals, parasites, and cross-contamination.

Food Safety

is a top priority at FarmBox Foods. We have multiple systems in place to ensure that only clean water reaches the crops, and we have procedures in place to prevent other types of contamination.

Smart Farm Technology gives the farmer complete control over temperature, humidity, LED growing lights, and watering schedules. The ability to make adjustments as needed not only increases plant growth but gives consistency in plant production. Our farms are only 320 square feet, stackable, and compatible with nearly any environment. Low water usage and multiple filtration systems mean our farms only require 3-5 gallons of water per day, with no worries about contamination. We believe that this combination of innovation, creativity, and sustainability makes vertical hydroponic farming the future of agriculture.

Inner City Uses of Vertical Farming

Not only do inner cities deal with a lack of usable space for farming, but changing weather conditions can make it nearly impossible to grow in the colder months. As the cost of fresh food continues to rise, vulnerable populations are forced to consume more fat and sugar-filled foods than ever, leading to an increase in diabetes, obesity, and other diet-related diseases. The good news is that there is a solution.

How Can We Eliminate Food Deserts?

Unfortunately, it is common to find food deserts in most inner cities. The US is growing more food than ever, yet we still have people going hungry. In 2019, 35 million people in the United States had limited or uncertain access to food. Putting vertical hydroponic and mushroom farms in inner cities will provide food security to areas that are underserved and struggle with access to nutritious, fresh food.

Is There Room For A Farm?

Our farms have a footprint of 320 square feet. They can be stacked, have the capacity to run on solar power, and can be deployed just about anywhere. Our small footprint does not mean small yields, however. Vertical grow tubes, LED grow lights, and multiple fans allow for faster and more efficient growth than with traditional farming.

Don’t Farms Use A Lot Of Water?

Another benefit of vertical hydroponic farming in urban areas is that very little water is required. By cutting out soil and incorporating a closed-loop watering system, the plants not only need less water to grow, but the water is recycled, cleaned, and reused.

It’s Too Cold To Farm!

Another benefit of vertical hydroponic farming in urban areas is that very little water is required. By cutting out soil and incorporating a closed-loop watering system, the plants not only need less water to grow, but the water is recycled, cleaned, and reused.

What’s Wrong With Just Buying Produce From The Grocery Store?

Fresher produce means healthier produce! By the time produce reaches grocery stores, it can be up to a week old – this means lost nutrients. Growing produce in the area where it will be consumed means you can enjoy food that is full of vitamins and other nutrients. With FarmBox Foods, we can place farms in the city, giving the community access to fresh, nutritious produce while reducing the environmental impact of transporting produce from rural areas.

Still Not Sure?

Placing farms in inner cities improves food security, provides jobs to residents, aids in educating the community on farming and nutrition, and boosts the local economy. At FarmBox Foods, our goal is to decentralize food systems and give power back to the consumers. We want to bring food security to people everywhere regardless of their location or socioeconomic background.