Shipped flowers from Kenya are ‘greener’ than vertically farmed European flowers

By ‘greener’ I don’t mean the color green but a lower carbon footprint! A UK florist, Bloom & Wild is planning to fly in flowers from Kenya as it claims that doing this has a lower carbon footprint than buying flowers grown under artificial heat and light in Europe. It is a criticism of the concept of vertical farming as I see it. The fundamental problem with vertical farming is that it requires a lot of artificial light which requires power, which in turn cost a lot of money and which contributes to global warming at least potentially.

Vertical farming.
Vertical farming. Image: Canva.

Growing fruit and vegetables normally depends upon a free abundant source of light: the sun. Using LED lights is second best, far more expensive and, as mentioned, can contribute to global warming.

Bloom & Wild are an online florist and they source their products from many countries including the UK, non-European countries and the Netherlands.

The co-founder of the business, Aron Gelbard (CEO), said that he was “trying to increase sourcing” from Kenya because an assessment found that even when you take into account flying the flowers from Kenya the total carbon footprint of growing flowers in East Africa and importing them to the UK is one sixth of the carbon footprint of growing them in heated greenhouses in the UK or Europe!

Vertical farming is a revolutionary concept and it’s a growing business. As I understand it, it is a way also of getting over the problem of space. With increased human population there is less space for agriculture and therefore to create farms vertically, on the face of it, looks like a good idea. And vertical farming can produce products 24/7. It is not dependent upon the weather.

It is called controlled environment agriculture (CEA). It employs hydroponics and aqua phonics. The environment is totally controlled. Light and humidity and nutrient levels are controlled precisely. Excellent quality produce can be produced.

The efficiency of vertical farms can be refined to lower the carbon footprint but I’m told that it typically involves increasing costs elsewhere. It seems, to me, that vertical farming may become cost-effective in the future and become viable from the perspective of global warming but at present, the natural way is both less expensive and less damaging to the environment.

Source: The Times July 10, 2023

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