How Unfold is Combating Hunger With Vertical Farming

Unfold is Combating Hunger With 5 Vertical Farming Techniques
Unfold is a new startup company in Sacramento, California. It has committed itself to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations for 2030. Unfold has a partnership with Temasek, a Singaporean holding company, and Leaps by Bayer (LBB), a company that invests in life sciences breakthroughs that can improve the world. LBB has a vision: Health for All, Hunger for None. In addition, Jürgen Eckhardt, head of LBB, explains how Unfold is combating hunger through its transformative, creative approach in agricultural product development. The company aims to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables, “supporting sustainably grown, hyperlocal production and addressing food security challenges faced by growing urban populations.”

Vertical farming is still relatively new but there are advancements to boost its development. Vertical farming has two main components; the framework and the biology. The framework involves components like temperature, humidity and lighting. Meanwhile, the biology aspect comprises of making seeds that produce better and faster in the vertical farming environment. The latter is Unfold’s target area.

5 Facts About How Unfold is Combating Hunger

  1. Seed Genetics: As opposed to framework upgrades, Unfold is committed to vertical farming solutions related to seed genetics. It is most common for vertical farms to use refined seeds to grow vegetables in other types of settings like greenhouses or fields. Additionally, Unfold breeds seeds specifically for the vertical farming environment so that plants can mature faster and have higher crop yields. One way Unfold will accomplish this is with a combination of seed genetics and agricultural technology.
  2. Germplasm: Through Unfold’s partnerships, the company raised $30 million in initial funding. It has an agreement with certain privileges to Bayer’s vegetable portfolio, a one-of-a-kind opportunity. Through these means, Unfold is combating hunger using germplasm. Germplasm refers to living genetic resources, such as seeds, to manage breeding, preservation and research. To start with, the team will begin working on a variety of consumer-pleasing vegetables.
  3. Crop Varieties: Initially, Unfold will focus on lettuce and spinach because leafy greens have less restrictive light requirements and grow quickly. However, Unfold will need to expand into more varieties to really succeed. The next vegetables Unfold will concentrate on are cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, because they do not need much space and grow in similar environments.
  4. Sustainability and Freshness: Unfold is combating hunger through sustainability and freshness by paying attention to the framework elements of vertical gardening. The layout, lighting, materials and sustainability features, such as reducing water and energy use, are all pieces of the overall goal. The goal is to maximize output while minimizing space. As a result, the demand for this practice is high in highly populated areas with limited land use. For example, Singapore has a personal stake in this advancement because the country has less than 1% of arable farmland.
  5. Thinking Long-term: Global food challenges are a dynamic issue. This is due to overpopulation, food deserts, growing environmental concerns and global health issues, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. This forces companies, like Unfold, to constantly rethink conventional methods. Unfold will be conscientious of traceability and nutritional value as it navigates these new vertical farming methods that it will implement right in the heart of the benefiting communities to shorten the supply chain.

Unfold is an innovative key player in vertical farming to end hunger. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global vertical farming market is expected to reach $12 billion by 2026. This is because of deficiencies in groundwater, decreases in viable farmland and increased demand for fresh produce. Unfold’s CEO, John Purcell, says that vertical farming is “an important player in the food ecosystem.” It might be the answer to global poverty as farmers could grow more varieties of food and faster. Partnerships with vertical farmers and retailers are also part of the equation to bring local, fresh products directly to community members. In addition, it will build up the economies at the same time.

Heather Babka
Photo: Flickr