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Vertical Farming in Singapore

The dense metropolis of Singapore is now home to the world’s first commercial vertical farm! Built by Sky Greens Farms, the rising steel structure will help the city grow more food locally, reducing dependence on imported produce. The new farm is able to produce 1 ton of fresh veggies every other day, which are sold in local supermarkets.

Update: This project is NOT being represented as free market. Clearly it is government funded, something most of use here at the DP are opposed to for a variety of reasons. This was shared because of the physical apparatus and the not-uncommon idea of vertical farming.






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Why I think this is bad.

I commented earlier that this isn't good because the company is utilizing government grants to create a product. The concept of the product, fresh produce produced locally, is excellent, but the means to achieve it is flawed. Now I don't mean that the system of vertical crops is a bad idea, but the fact that they have to receive government help is bad. It is bad in several aspects but most so because it requires the use of force to pay for such idea. Taxes must be collected and then destined to this project. Here is where I have another issue. The idea of vertical planting may be great, but because government help is involved, the company may poorly invest such funds because first they are interest free and secondly they don't have to be paid back. The poor investment may very well be the reason that the great idea never takes off. Others that are watching and learning from the project will also be studying if it is viable in other locations. If they don't also have access to the free money, then the idea will never grow. A classic example of this is Solyndra where money is poorly spent and thus the project never takes off.

If a company like Wholefoods is able to work by selling more expensive food, then this idea could also work without government help. Sell the food at a higher price, but market it as a better product. Free markets are always better.

You've never done any fundraising for a startup, have you?

The market for investors is not like your father's market. Honestly, there are 99.999% sharks and about no honest investors when you go through any non-personal channels. I've been through initial talks, due diligence, negotiations and dumped over a hundred investors in the last 2-3 years alone. They all want to pay nothing, they want it guaranteed and then they want majority control and shares at the end. And this is just for INITIAL funding which must be followed up by usually two more rounds of larger amounts. It's truly amazing how ballzy the elites are getting these days.

So, with this in mind, how do you propose a genuine 'do-gooder' business gets started when there's not enough margin on the table for the sharks to bite?

I'm not for the government getting involved in business startups but in today's market and with such a capital intensive venture such as this vertical farming is, it very well may be the only way.

Does this mean it will definitely waste money because of a lack of accountability? No. It may not stop it but it doesn't guarantee it either.

Besides, this is in a country where US laws and regs are meaningless.

BTW, solyndra is not a 'classic' example. It's a recent one. The entire oil industry is a classic example.

A Good Idea is Worth Millions/Billions

If you have a good idea, and good being measured by the demand for that idea, then you will find investors. Investors are always looking to put their money where there will be a good return. If this particular idea of vertical farming is not a good return, financially speaking, then don't expect the investment of capitalists. However, there are many other means of acquiring the necessary financial needs such as online, charities, and even people like Bill Gates. Remember that the USA is the country that most donates money to charities.

Also, like I mentioned previously, the acceptance of this government money may actually be the demise of such idea. It could also be the spark that it needs, but I don't trust government's track record. Too often government funds only create more problems.

Instead of spending millions upon millions of dollars on this project, why not setup a prototype somewhere else, check its viability and then proceed with a larger multimillion dollar project. If the viability is proven, people will invest. A prototype can cost in the mere thousands, something easily raised even online.

Good points Brigger.

Maybe the problem with finding investors is that the plan is starting out too big. I would also like to see that many hands controlled the food supply- not just one giant government funded enterprise.

But I think the vertical farming concept is very cool.

Can you handle my fundraising??? PLEASE?

I'm serious. If it's so easy, why have I and my associates gone through nearly a dozen investment deals this summer alone, only to find that they hold out at the last minute for deal breaking extortion? Why do they think that investing $2M for 180 days should earn them well in excess of $5M? Why have I pissed away 13 freakin' years hunting for someone who wants to 'invest and make money' while not taking over ownership and control of the company? Honestly, please tell me. I'm all ears. If you disagree, please send me the contact info and a time so I can call and tap into this wealth.

And don't go down the road of 'well, it's probably not a good investment'. They all drool over it, saying it has tremendous potential, which it does. So much so, that they get greedy to the point that kills the deal.

The problem (for my group) with most of what you suggest is that we have the later round financed if we can raise the initial round to fund things like legal, patents, past bills and contracts first. No one seems to want to fund this first round for a simple return after they see the final fund's profit margin.

So, I'm dead serious. If you think you have the brass to find "Millions/Billions", PM me and we'll do the NDAs. Otherwise, you're just speculating idealistically from the bleachers.

You hit the nail on the head, Mr. Nystrom

In a reply from Michael Nystrom below in this thread, he makes the point that "the real world is a little different" in response to a member's comment. I think he "hit the nail on the head". His observation, in a larger sense, points to a fundamental reason why humanity now suffers so many looming survival challenges.

"Why is the real world a little different?" is at the fulcrum point of the understanding of why does human nature fail time after time, civilization after civilization, millennium after millennium, in the maintenance of a sustainable survival plan for ourselves.

I surmise that, as humans, we harbor billions of different opinions of what is "the real world" (reality). Nature-at-large, both as it represents itself here in our bio-sphere and throughout the universe, maintains its own data streams, likely with no concern about what humanity thinks, communicating its own unified reality to every molecule of life everywhere it is.

Despite all of our (humanity's) self-aggrandized sapience, we haven't even built an agreeable model of reality for ourselves. Until then, we will continue to agree to disagree, fail to construct a workable survival plan, probably crash another civilization and shackled by our arrogance remain blinded to the unified reality that is everywhere around us in Nature hidden in plain sight.

Isn't it ours for the asking?

I Dont Care if its gov funded

this vertical farming is a major example of how to feed a growing planet. this is proof that the concept is sound i don't know how fiscally sound it can be but imagine for a moment cities around the us having these types of structures maybe our diet wouldn't consist of 90% gmo wheat.

Government collapse and all interstate shipping down? well ur not gonna starve. maybe if this catches on globally we'll rape the south American rainforest a little less. having a sustainable society is just smart business for our future generations. and i see no aspect of our culture and consumption that is anyway sustainable, energy, food, social benefits, economy, currency, other natural resources ie. rare earth metals that make ur iphone work (note the word RARE in rare earth metals).

Or we could do what our parents and grandparents did that is destroy the US with debt and dwindling natural resources only concerned with how comfortable their lives were not about the world they were leaving my generation or my children's generation.


Michael Nystrom's picture

Is someone on here complaining about that?

What's it to anyone here how the people of Singapore choose to organize themselves and how their government operates?

Some people on here are so one dimensional.

They read something in a textbook and suddenly they're the expert.

Free markets work for all.

Because they are based on the idea that man has a right to preserve his life through the just accumulation of private property. A man living in Singapore has the same basic needs as one living in America.

Have the people of Singapore REALLY chosen to hand over money to build this vertical farm? Wouldn't a better indicator of their support be a system that was funded by investors and paid for by profits?

If we do not discuss and even criticize the way other governments work, will the affected people even realize that there might be a better way?

Mr. Nystrom, it's easier to be a critic than to...

It's so much easier to be a critic than to offer something new that meaningfully deepens the dialogue.

Our (humanity's) cultural impasse remains, though, when most of what we have to offer is tired "v.1.0" responses to challenges that need new v.2.0, outside-the-box solutions.

I share your sentiments, Kellyicus

Many of us high-information types on Daily Paul are woefully low on the wherewithal to respond ably to the unfolding environmental crisis.

In my opinion, the environmental issue is one of the two weakest planks in the liberty movement.

A typical position usually starts with "Well, in a free market polluters will be..." The obvious problem with this mindset is that our current compounded environmental collapse event will not wait until most of the world operates as a free market.

We must embrace and support as many of good "plan B" ideas sooner rather than later if we, humanity, have the slightest chance of surviving this unfolding catastrophe with a few of our best cultural features intact.

For those of you who say that there are no big problems, that up and coming food, energy and water shortages are just more PTB scare tactics, I suggest that you may not truly be fully "awake."

Sorry but this "company" is

Sorry but this "company" is taking government grants and so it is most likely the only reason it even exists. Any company that requires the "free" money of government is a company that should never have existed. This is the same type of bullcrap like we see with "renewable" energy. It is money being diverted from something useful and desired to something that the government "thinks" is useful and desireable.

Fresh vegetables are undoubtably "useful"

I watched these videos days ago. I don't remember anything about government grants. If I missed it, I doubt that the fact was premised as "required" as you describe the transaction to be.

I do seem to remember that it was claimed that the price to market of the locally harvested produce was competitive with the much less fresh produce shipped to the island from around the world.

As a citizen from a nation that blatently and consistently misuses and wastes billions of dollars of public monies on a myriad of criminal and unconstitutional misadventures, I might appreciate that (in the scenario as you berate it) some of that loot, for a change, was passed towards a good idea that became ultimately beneficial for the people.

It's unclear to what extent

the government is involved. Was it some sort of start-up grant, or is the operation akin to what America is increasingly involved in: public-private partnerships?

But either way, why are you being so negative? Personally, I couldn't care less how the project was funded. I think the post is here to share the idea of vertical farming on this scale, ideal for a small island country such as Singapore. I found it an inspiring post.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir

I am a firm believer of

I am a firm believer of specialization; countries should produce what they have a comparative advantage in. The issue with food production isn't that we don't have enough land, but simply that the land is misused. Take for example Corn produced in the USA that is used for ethanol production. We are talking about 50% of the corn, or better yet, 50% of that acreage is being wasted away because of government grants. Government grants have made it possible for this system to exist. I would much rather see Singapore dedicate their time and money to producing something they are good at, such as biotech, instead of something they simply don't have the qualified people or resources to produce, food. Let me produce your food, cheaply, and I will buy your biotech, cheaply.

But, the idea is cool, just not necessary in my opinion. Maybe good for a home style garden for your own consumption.

Michael Nystrom's picture

Do you understand how small Singapore is?

Singapore excels in many areas of business and finance, but it is part of human nature for a culture to want to be food self sufficient.

Let me produce your food, cheaply, and I will buy your biotech, cheaply.

Great. Until one day- for whatever reason - I can't buy your food. Either because markets have shifted away from what I can produce, or because of a global meltdown or breakdown of the payment system.

And then what? I'd rather do something that is slightly "inefficient" and be food secure than take that risk.

Speaking of which, what is this obsession with "efficiency?" Where did it come from? I don't disagree that it is good to be efficient. But any good taken to an extreme is a bad.

You talk like a textbook. And that is where your theory excels. The real world is a little different.

But it is a cool idea.

And what's it to you about how the people of Singapore choose to organize themselves and their government? On a per capita basis, I bet that Singapore is richer than the US.

I gots to know


Okay, that might be a little dramatic for the issue at hand, but I love that scene and you did make me curious. So I looked. 20-25% richer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir

I agree for the most part...

...and I updated the OP. I'm working on a post specifically about grants. Thanks for the comment.

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!


It works for algae too.


9-11 was a panda job.

This is not farming

and that vertical thing wont do anything. I'm a local farmer in the central valley in California. We can grow more food per acre than probably anywhere else.

Sounds like someone's not up to speed

on the new techniques that out-produce by 10-30:1 vs those old ways.

I just ran some 'best case' numbers for your comparison. (Been wanting to quantify it for a long time) The system I have in my basement can be duplicated to any footprint or height desired so I divided it into 1 meter stats. It can also be stacked 3 layers high and still be powered by solar on the roof's same footprint. Doing so yields a "land footprint" of .33 sq ft (.031 sq. m) per plant with up to 6 harvests per year on that footprint. It runs on 1-3% of the water each plant would take in soil.

Effectively, that's no external energy to grow 1162 plants per year per square meter... Easily over $1/plant
Plus a secondary product of 140 fish harvested per year in that same footprint, used to provide all the nutrients for the primary product... Average rate of $2.50/fish fresh
Plus a tertiary product (duckweed, compost and worms) supplying 80% of the fish food built in.

All for seed cost and a one-time entry cost of ~$1560 (solar included but not the building) for each of those square meter footprints. Maxed out, that's 1 year to pay off a system that profits $1500/yr/sq. m.

i agree

Its their money. Whatever turns them on.



There are youtube howtos on how to build your own rigs. you can grow your algae (biodiesel, biogas, biocrude) in similar rigs.

My only question is: As the Singapore gov is heavily involved, isn't this just fascism? Singapore's business regulatory environment is more free then ours some say (socially they are oppressive) and they have lower corp taxes. Where is the free market?

They are getting heavy public funds according to this report.

Yep, you're correct

This is NOT free market. I was sharing for the idea of this particular vertical farming apparatus.

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!


Michael Nystrom's picture

Awesome Rob


this is amazing to me.
I am a huge gardener, not feeding supermarkets tho.
There is something about getting my hands in the dirt and walking in it barefoot.
I have a greenhouse and have grown food in it. The produce does not taste the same as what is planted outside in the dirt, that gets rained on, with a little lighting and thunder.

I totally agree about the importance of soil.

The soil is alive, and I'm sure there is an effect on plants. (Well, it's no longer alive when chemical pesticides and fertilizers are used, killing the micro-organisms; I meant in a more natural farm setting.) I'm not a fan of hydroponics. Still, what are the tradeoffs for a country like Singapore? Fresh, soil-grown local produce isn't an option. They simply don't have the farmland. So I think vertical farming there is a great idea.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir


Check this out...


http://youtu.be/hrnND0iTfjo (Knowledge is Freedom)
http://idealchoices.info Understanding Bitcoin

That's pretty neat!

It says it requires NO sunlight? I'm not quite sure how that's possible, but nonetheless, it's an interesting concept. Thanks for sharing!

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!