Smarter cities & vertical farming can serve as gateway technology to accelerate climate change resilience – Henry Gordon-Smith, Agritecture Consulting

Henry Gordon-Smith

Smarter cities & vertical farming can serve as gateway technology to accelerate climate change resilience – Henry Gordon-Smith, Agritecture Consulting

Henry Gordon-Smith is Founder and Managing Director of Agritecture Consulting. He is an acknowledged global thought leader in the emerging vertical farming industry. In 2011, he started the blog Agritecture.com and in 2014 he started Blue Planet Consulting (now Agritecture Consulting) to provide expert guidance on planning and launching urban agriculture projects. Henry grew up around the world and has a unique capacity to develop creative solutions to local and global problems. He earned his BA in Political Science from UBC, a certificate in Food Security from Ryerson University and an MSc in Sustainability Management from Columbia University. On Jun 27, 2018, he will speak about How data and scenario analysis could take vertical farming mainstream at the Vertical Farming Conference during Agri-Food Innovation Event in Venlo, The Netherlands.

What drives you?

I have a vision of cities that can stand the test of time and climate change. What drives me is knowing that we can create smarter cities and vertical farming can serve as a gateway technology to inspire, engage, and accelerate climate change resilience.

What emerging technologies/trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?

Plant breeding and genetics, data-driven distribution, renewable energy battery storage, automation technologies.

What kind of impact do you expect them to have?

Plant breeding could transform the yields in indoor farms, making the margins healthier. Algorithims for distribution of food in cities can reduce waste and accelerate new farm business growth. Renewable energy storage through batteries could drastically reduce the high carbon footprint on vertical farming. Automation technologies could improve the bottom line of farms where labor is the highest operating cost.

What are the barriers that might stand in the way?

All of these are technologies and technology is always a ‘double-edged sword’. Thus, opposing interests could win more attention and this could prevent these technologies from scaling. Overall, the demand from consumers for cleaner and more local food must drive this industry and technology and it remains to be seen if that rising demand will continue and accelerate. Cities also have many other concerns and without collaboration in the industry it will be challenging to get vertical farming near the top of the agenda for cities.

What do you hope people to learn from your presentation?

How to engage cities strategically to forward sustainable technologies in agriculture, helping to get them near the top of the agenda agenda for sustainable urban development.

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