Deep Down on the Farm

Oct 22, 2021

What does the future of food production look like when we’ve maxed out the remaining arable land? Good question.

Half of the planet’s habitable land is used for ag. Combine pastures used for grazing with the acreage used to grow feed, and you get 77% of global farming land being used for livestock production.

Chip down: The finite land resource solution might be right under our nose…err, toes, according to the pre-seed startup GreenForges, an underground farming company founded in 2019.

CEO Philippe Labrie began his career with his sights set on vertical farming, but found out the sky does have a limit. Using rooftop greenhouses in cities comes out to a food production capacity of only 2-5% in 2050.

Take it down a notch: Switching directions, GreenForges will take vertical farming below the surface to make the most of unused space and shortcut one of its biggest drags—energy costs.

GreenForges thinks its underground system will increase energy efficiency by 30-40% compared to traditional vertical farms, since the HVAC system won’t have to work as hard to maintain a stable environment inside.

Sticking to the basics: Currently, the company is sticking with traditional indoor crops like leafy greens, herbs, and berries in its underground test farm. The target is 2,400 heads of lettuce per month for a 100-foot farm—about 14,000 lbs. per year.