The Future of Sustainable Urban Farming with Vertical Farming in the United States

The Future of Sustainable Urban Farming with Vertical Farming in the United States

Vertical Farming, cultivating fresh produce while minimizing environmental impact.


In the ever-evolving landscape of global agriculture, a paradigm shift is unfolding with the rise of vertical farming. This innovative method, often referred to as controlled environment agriculture, is redefining what it means to grow food sustainably in the United States, particularly in the realm of urban agriculture.


A global snapshot of agriculture reveals that two-thirds of agricultural land is dedicated to grazing, while one-third is used for cropping, predominantly grains like rice, corn, and wheat (FAO, 2020). However, vertical farming—a method that doesn’t cater to these traditional crops—presents a new frontier. Unlike conventional farming, vertical farming uses no soil; instead, nutrients are delivered directly to plants through water in systems known as hydroponics and aeroponics.


The United States is experiencing a steep upward trajectory in the vertical farming market, with an estimated value of USD 3.56 billion in 2024, projected to soar to USD 5.95 billion by 2029 (Mordor Intelligence, 2024). This growth is fueled by urbanization, a heightened demand for healthy foods, and an inclination toward organic products. Despite high initial investments and limitations on crop variety, the market is thriving, particularly in urban areas where space is at a premium.


The appeal of vertical farming lies in its efficiency and sustainability, aligning with the principles of sustainable agriculture. Fruits, vegetables, herbs, and micro-greens thrive under controlled conditions, using 70 to 95% less water than traditional agriculture (Namkung, 2019). The technology has proven particularly beneficial for crops like tomatoes, leafy greens, and strawberries. The hydroponic segment, in particular, dominates the U.S. market, bolstered by the increasing popularity of greenhouse horticulture and organic produce (Mordor Intelligence, 2024).


However, the sector is not without its challenges. High energy costs and the focus on leafy greens and small fruits raise questions about vertical farming’s ability to meet the global demand for staple grains. Moreover, the industry has witnessed notable failures, with companies like PodPonics and FarmedHere closing due to unsustainable costs and operational complexities (IDTechEX, 2022).


Yet, the potential for vertical farming remains vast. The sector is highly fragmented (Illustration 1), with no dominant players, offering new entrants a chance to innovate and succeed. Partnerships, like those between Aero Farms and Cargill (Cargill, 2021), and investments from retail giants like Walmart in companies such as Plenty (Namkung, 2019), highlight the growing interest and confidence in this innovative farming approach.


Illustration 1. Main players of the US. Vertical Farming Market. Source: Mordor Intelligence, 2024


Vertical farming in the United States represents a significant shift towards sustainable urban agriculture. With its ability to produce high yields in small areas, use significantly less water, and provide locally grown, fresh produce, vertical farming offers a promising complement to conventional agriculture. As the sector evolves, it will be interesting to see how these agri-tech companies navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities in this green revolution.



  • Cargill (2021). Cargill partners with vertical farming leader AeroFarms in first-of-its-kind research focused on cocoa production. Link
  • FAO (2020). Land use in agriculture by the numbers. Link
  • IDTechEx (2022). Vertical Farming 2022-2032. Link
  • Mordor Intelligence (2024). Vertical Farming USA Market Size & Share Analysis – Growth Trends & Forecasts (2024 – 2029) Link
  • Namkung, V. (2022). “Are indoor vertical farms really ‘future-proofing agriculture’?” The Guardian. Link
  • Walling, M., and Lafleur, K. (2023). “Lots of indoor farms are shutting down as their businesses struggle. So why are more being built?” AP. Link
Jesús Martínez
Jesús Martínez


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