About Vertical Farming

Vertical farming first was envisioned by Nancy Jack Todd and John Todd in 1993 in their book “From Eco-Cities to Living Machines.” The concept was later expanded in 1999 by Dickson Despommier (www.verticalfarm.com), a professor of environmental sciences and microbiology at Columbia University. In the last few years, many mainstream and scientific articles have been written about the vertical farm concept — a high-rise approach to bringing fresh healthy produce from "tower to fork," emulating the "field to fork" movement toward a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle. Advantages include:
  • Indoor, enclosed farming with no weather-related crop failures
  • Year-round crop production
  • Organically grown with no herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers
  • Eliminates agricultural runoff by recycling black water
  • Converts abandoned urban properties into food production centers
  • Creates new employment opportunities

"The project will take more than academics. We look to Charleston leaders and the public to help create a plan for providing food in a sustainable way for cities. More and more people live in urban settings and environmental realities and stresses demand that we imagine and implement innovative ways to feed, house, employ and transport populations.”  - Gene W. Eidson, Ph.D., Director, CU Institute of Applied Ecology


The study itself, as well as the potential for the development of an actual vertical farm, will have strong impacts on community connectivity. The study will provide a collaborative environment for Clemson University's faculty and graduate students to link with regional universities, technical schools and high schools to create an education hub for sustainability that spans from campuses into the communities.
The presence of a vertical farm would promote environmental justice by supporting innovative approaches to bringing healthy foods to socioeconomically stressed citizens and neighborhoods and encouraging citywide and regional healthy food initiatives. The study includes two opportunities for focused discussion on the plan — architects call them "charrettes" — to ensure public participation.