USDA/DOE Workshop to Explore Vertical Agriculture, Sustainable Urban Ecosystems

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WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy will host a workshop on “Innovation and Design in Vertical Agriculture and Sustainable Urban Ecosystems” on June 27-28 in Washington, DC. The workshop will be held at the Thomas Jefferson Auditorium at USDA Headquarters at 1400 Independence Ave. SW in Washington.

Representatives from the public and private sectors will identify and discuss challenges, opportunities and possibilities associated with vertical agriculture and sustainable urban ecosystems. The public is invited to attend morning sessions – which run from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Jun 27, and from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on June 28. However, you must RSVP by June 17 to attend. To RSVP, please go online to: .

A growing world population, accompanied by increased demands on the food supply and increased urbanization, is driving efforts to develop engineering and agricultural innovations within urban systems to sustainably help meet future needs. Vertical agriculture operations could augment production while offering lower emissions, higher-nutrient produce, and reduced water usage and runoff. And placing vertical farms in the context of a renewable urban ecosystem – where one industry’s waste is another’s raw material – could stimulate sustainable economic growth.

Speakers at the public sessions during the two-day workshop include (More detailed information is available online at

• Dr. Sabine O’Hara, Dean and Director of Land-grant Programs for the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). CAUSES is building a cutting-edge model for urban agriculture that improves the quality of life and economic opportunity for urban populations.
• Dr. Dickson Despommier, Emeritus Professor of Public and Environmental Health at Columbia University. Despommier is widely considered to be the originator of the modern concept of vertical farming.
• Dr. Raymond Wheeler, Plant Physiologist, NASA. As the lead for Advanced Life Support Research activities at the Kennedy Space Center, Wheeler has been studying ways to grow safe, fresh food crops efficiently off the Earth.
• Dr. Weslynne Ashton, Associate Professor of Environmental Management and Sustainability, Illinois Institute of Technology Stuart School of Business. She currently leads projects examining urban food system sustainability with Plant Chicago and the Chicago Food Policy Action Council.
• Nate Storey, Chief Science Officer at Plenty, Inc., a private company that is building a global network of field-scale indoor farms.
• Nick Starling, Chairman, Skyscraper Farm, LLC. Nick is the world’s foremost vertical farming economist.  He has researched vertical farming since 2011, and has discovered a variety of improvements needed to feed the world while dramatically reducing water usage and eliminating agricultural runoff.

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