Kids speak on vertically building a sustainable future

Originally published in Issue 14

By Lea S. Singer (7th grader)

At the New York Sun Works’ Youth Conference on June 2, 2016, building a sustainable future was the shared topic. So many ideas were presented on how the kids of this generation could help build a better, healthier future for themselves. The passion shared with all who attended was inspiring, and made you want to start a mini hydroponics system in your kitchen the minute you left the conference.

Among the numerous people who spoke, ranging in age from 10- to 15- years old, three guest speakers attended. One of them, Dr. Dickson Despommier, from The Vertical Farm, shared the newest way of growing food—VIG.

One of the guest speakers at the conference was Dr. Dickson Despommier from The Vertical Farm who discussed vertically integrated growing (VIG).

VIG stands for vertically integrated growing, which looks exactly like it sounds. The plants are lined up in rows vertically, against a wall, as opposed to taking up space on the floor. This way of modifying plant growing systems for space efficiency could very well be the standard farming technique of the 21st century.

According to Dr. Despommier, many producers have already adapted this growing technique, using it to grow an abundance of vegetables, including tomatoes, spinach and kale.

One grocery store that was shown during his presentation had a VIG setup in the store, so that customers could simply cut off the leaves they desired from the extremely fresh plants, bag it, pay for their produce, and cook it for dinner the same day it was cut. This is one of the many examples Dr. Despommier showed the audience during his presentation. By the end of his presentation, it’s safe to say attendees were all convinced of the VIG’s efficiency and reliability as a new mass production growing technique.

Another VIG benefit, the free floor space leaves plenty of room for jetpacking and hoverboard riding, which will come in handy in 2050.

Lea S. Singer is a 7th grade student and aspiring writer at the Manhattan School for Children, PS333.


“The NY Sun Works conference was a great opportunity to learn about new ways to use sustainable science and how it works. Sustainable science is very important because, if we keep going without it, it will not be good for us. The conference gave new possibilities, new ways and new approaches on how to save our world.”

— Nate Hajdu, 7th grader and member of NY Sun Works Youth Conference Press Team


NY Sun Works is a non-profit organization that builds innovative science labs in urban schools. Through their Greenhouse Project Initiative they use hydroponic farming technology to educate students and teachers about the science of sustainability.  www.nysunworks.org

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