A crew of eco-minded entrepreneurs plan to mash-up modern vertical farming with decades-old hippie culture by fitting out an Airstream trailer with a mobile farm. Their plan is to bring hyper-efficient food production up close and personal to what they predict to be a receptive audience. “Isabel”, the souped up camper, will debut at Burning Man, a week-long cultural event held in Nevada every September.
“I think of Burning Man as the modern version of the world’s fair,” said project co-founder Ryan Hooks. “You have Google, Facebook, Elon Musk out there, and investors. It’s where all the innovators go to play. I know that people will be inspired by Isabel, and the message can disseminate from there.” The team will demonstrate how vertical (and indoor) farming uses 95% less water with no pesticides, and grows twice as fast as traditional plantings.
What’s not to love about vertical farms? They bring fresh food production to unlikely urban settings, tap into radical advances in agri-tech (such as vertical farm operating system “flux”) and – whether climbing soaring skyscraper facades or housed within bespoke buildings – they are more photogenic than supermodel Gigi Hadid. Green Prophet’s brought you dozens of examples, each one offering up as much eye candy as belly food!
Hooks had worked for nearly a decade on food documentaries and for organizations like UNICEF, but he wanted to get more directly involved. “I was becoming more and more concerned over time that these solutions that are available aren’t being deployed as fast as they should,” he says.
Partnering with vertical farmer Eric Hager and designer Ruben Santa, the trio set up a small farm in East Bay, near San Francisco, to experiment with alternative crop production responsive to California’s water crisis. In addition to water efficiency, they also tackled alternative fertilizers and transportation impacts. They factored in global issues like climate change and biodiversity. The conclusion was that going vertical could solve many more issues than scarce hydration.
They’ve developed and selected the systems to sustain their vertical micro-farm. With Isabel now fully running in the East Bay facility, they are moving forward to acquire the vehicular components of the project via a crowdfunding campaign to complete construction of the Airstream greenhouse. On that trailer, beneath a plexiglas dome, kale, cucumbers and tomatoes will thrive – awaiting harvest to feed hungry audiences at Burning Man, universities and organizations around the world.
“People can come see it, get free salad, and they can ask us any questions,” said Hooks. They plan to follow up this exhibit with more modular vertical farms – affordable and more productive than what’s currently commercially available – for installation everywhere.
“We’d like to collaborate with someone like Ikea,” he says. “If Ikea can sell vertical farming systems, it would make it so affordable that more and more people can use it, and become more and more efficient.”
Check out their Indiegogo campaing (link here) to learn more about Isabel. See your donations truly grow something.
Images from Indiegogo