Ninurta Enterprises Incorporated (NEI) is a socially conscious and spiritually responsible sustainable engineering consulting firm that provides scientifically engineered solutions addressing the subjects of food, water, energy, housing, clothing, and waste recycling. We are capable of designing multi-tiered, scalable, and cross-platform systems with special focus on self-sustainable indoor vertical farming.
Dickson Despommier is a professor of environmental health sciences and microbiology. He reopened the topic of VF in 1999 with graduate students in a medical ecology class. He speculated that a 30-floor farm on one city block could provide food for 50,000 people including vegetables, fruit, eggs and meat, explaining that hydroponic crops could be grown on upper floors; while the lower floors would be suited for chickens and fish that eat plant waste.
Although many of Despommier’s suggestions have been challenged from an environmental science and engineering point of view, Despommier successfully popularized his assertion that food production can be transformed. Critics claimed that the additional energy needed for artificial lighting, heating and other operations would outweigh the benefit of the building’s close proximity to the areas of consumption.
Despommier originally challenged his class to feed the entire population of Manhattan (about 2,000,000 people) using only 5 hectares (13 acres) of rooftop gardens. The class calculated that rooftop gardening methods could feed only two percent of the population. Unsatisfied with the results, Despommier made an off-the-cuff suggestion of growing plants indoors, vertically. By 2001 the first outline of a vertical farm was introduced. In an interview Despommier described how vertical farms would function:
Each floor will have its own watering and nutrient monitoring systems. There will be sensors for every single plant that tracks how much and what kinds of nutrients the plant has absorbed. You’ll even have systems to monitor plant diseases by employing DNA chip technologies that detect the presence of plant pathogens by simply sampling the air and using snippets from various viral and bacterial infections. It’s very easy to do.
Moreover, a gas chromatograph will tell us when to pick the plant by analyzing which flavenoids the produce contains. These flavonoids are what gives the food the flavors you’re so fond of, particularly for more aromatic produce like tomatoes and peppers. These are all right-off-the-shelf technologies. The ability to construct a vertical farm exists now. We don’t have to make anything new.
Architectural designs were independently produced by designers Chris Jacobs, Andrew Kranis and Gordon Graff.
In 2011 the Plant in Chicago was building an anaerobic digester into the building. This will allow the farm to operate off the energy grid. Moreover, the anaerobic digester will be recycling waste from nearby businesses that would otherwise go into landfills.[
As of 2014, Vertical Fresh Farms was operating in Buffalo, New York, specializing in salad greens, herbs and sprouts. In March the world’s then largest vertical farm opened in Scranton, Pennsylvania, built by Green Spirit Farms (GSF). The firm is housed in a single story building covering 3.25 hectares, with racks stacked six high to house 17 million plants. The farm was to grow 14 lettuce crops per year, as well as spinach, kale, tomatoes, peppers, basil and strawberries. Water is scavenged from the farm’s atmosphere with a dehumidifier.
Kyoto-based Nuvege (pronounced “new veggie”) operates a windowless farm. Its LED lighting is tuned to service two types of chlorophyll, one preferring red light and the other blue. Nuvege produces 6 million lettuce heads a year.