Vertical farms grow food using indoor fields in buildings several stories high, essentially inverting traditional farms. By doing so, vertical farms allow fruits and vegetables to be produced near the population centers where they will be consumed. Vertical farms also require less surface area than conventional farms, which permits pastureland to revert to a more natural state. Both effects reduce greenhouse gas emissions while allowing more plants to grow and purify the air, which makes vertical farms more environmentally friendly than conventional farms. These factors make vertical farms an ideal project to receive government funding. In addition to the environmental and agricultural benefits, vertical farms have the potential to create new, technologically advanced jobs.
Detailing your Vertical Farm
The sort of crops or livestock you maintain on your vertical farm influence the grants for which you qualify. On grant applications, as well as in your business plan, detail the parameters of the project; determine how big the farm will be and its location, what you will grow and how many employees you will need, as well as to whom you will market the farm’s harvest. Granting agencies have a clear focus in mind for their funds; detailing the exact parameters of your project will increase the likelihood of it being funded. These details also ensure you pair with the government agency whose goals are similar to yours. The federal government funds many grants for which vertical farms qualify, but depending upon your location, state and local governments might also have funding opportunities.
Read More: What Is Vertical Selling?
The United States Department of Agriculture administers grants through a variety of organizations, such as the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. Producers, community groups, nonprofit and educational organizations qualify for SARE grants. Detail how your vertical farm contributes to sustainable agriculture when you apply, but also address how it pertains to the specific focus of the grant, which can range from funding for professional development seminars to funds for agriculture producers. Vertical farms produce more food per acre than conventional farms and are completely organic, according to The Vertical Farm Project, which makes operating them more sustainable than conventional farms. They also reduce water pollution by reusing -- and naturally purifying -- dirty water; they also do not use fossil fuels for cultivation or transportation.
Research and Education
Vertical farms are fertile ground for agricultural research and education. Learning to farm indoors, according to The Vertical Farm Project, is integral to further scientific endeavors, such as space exploration. SARE research grants involve scientists and food producers whose projects further progressive farming, so when you apply for a SARE educational or research grant, describe how the vertical farm will address a specific agricultural question using grant funding. Grants for educational projects are also available through the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which focuses on educating high school and college-age farmers. A vertical farm would qualify for an NIFA grant if it were built for research or to educate students on a college or secondary school's campus. Many research projects pertaining to vertical farming, such as crop-pairing and efficient irrigation and water usage, could be funded with an NIFA grant.
Small Business Association Grants
Though they yield more food per acre than conventional farms, vertical farms still require people to control, harvest, manage and market the farm. The website Simply Hydroponics speculates that people could work in vertical farms in shifts to produce fruits and vegetables similarly to other commodities. A vertical farm needs employees for researching and developing commercially viable agriculture, which qualifies vertical farms for grant funding from the United States Small Business Administration. Though the SBA does not directly award grants to start or expand a business, a vertical farm could qualify for the SBA's Small Business Innovative Research or Small Business Technology Transfer grants from the SBA, which support small businesses whose research could create a successful business. Such funding, according to the SBA, indirectly supports companies that create jobs.
Ben Taylor has been writing since 2005 and has had work published by WEKU-FM and West Virginia Public Broadcasting both on air and online. Taylor holds a Master of Arts in English from Eastern Kentucky University and currently teaches composition and ESL there.