LA introduces first indoor farm in containers

NORTHRIDGE, California – As the effects of climate change worsen, water and energy become even more precious. This is especially true of agriculture, which uses 70% of the world’s fresh water. That’s why the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power partnered with the Electric Power Research Institute to test an indoor container farm in Northridge.

“We’re going to show the rest of the country that cities can be part of the future of agriculture,” LA councilman John Lee told Spectrum News 1. Lee represents the 12th parish in northwest San Fernando Valley, in which the town’s first pod farm was unveiled on Thursday at the LAPD Devonshire PALS youth center.

What you need to know

  • LA’s first indoor shipping container farm was unveiled Thursday at the LAPD Devonshire PALS Youth Center in Northridge
  • The farm uses water efficient hydroponics and LED lights to grow produce
  • LADWP is one of 14 utility companies across the country participating in a two-year research project to study the water and energy use of indoor farming
  • Indoor container farming uses 95% less water than traditional farming

“It’s sustainable. It uses 95% less water and electricity, ”he said. “And we’ll be able to grow crops all year round.”

While the 40-foot and eight-ton container will be part of a research project for the next two years, it is a permanent installation that will initially be used to grow kale and eventually other crops that will help feed the community and at the same time teach young people about technology and efficient farming practices.

“Every little step we teach our children helps tackle what we are all going through: climate change and our water scarcity,” said Lee.

LADWP is one of 14 utility companies partnering with the Electric Power Research Institute on a two-year study to help utility companies understand the effects of indoor food production. Researchers will monitor each site to assess energy and water usage.

“Indoor farming is not competitive with traditional farming. It’s a beneficial solution, ”said Frank Sharp, Principal Technical Leader at EPRI.

Sharp said the world population is projected to “grow by two billion people” by 2050, and many of those people will live in urban areas. With 80% of the world’s arable land already being used, “to meet this food obligation, we need to get more creative when we grow crops.”

Indoor farming allows food to be produced closer to where it is consumed, which, when grown in urban areas, has an impact on the utilities that provide the water and energy for it. Part of EPRI’s research with the Northridge Indoor Farm is “helping utilities think about ways to work with communities to connect both the grid with efficient technologies and the efficient use of energy, water and sustainability and impact.” to benefit the community “.

The indoor container farm at the LAPD Devonshire PALS youth center will grow plants in vertically stacked layers with less water-intensive hydroponics, eliminating the need for soil and pesticides. In addition to saving water, indoor farming uses LED grow lights that save energy, reduce costs and CO2 emissions, while increasing crop yields by up to 50% compared to traditional farming.

“The urgency of climate change is there,” said Maria Sison-Roces, corporate sustainability manager at LADWP. “It takes an all-hands, all-of-the-top approach. This indoor container farm is a clever program because it will be a gift that passes on. It will produce year after year. “

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