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Farming in the City

What’s in that tall building? It could be a farm!

A man and a group of young children stand facing scaffolding that holds several layers of seedlings.

Courtesy of Area 2 Farms

A group of kids takes a tour of Area 2 Farms, an indoor farm in Arlington, Virginia.

If you ask most people to describe a farm, they’ll probably talk about rows and rows of crops planted on large pieces of land. Most farms are far from cities because most farms require a lot of land. But that’s changing. More and more farms are being established inside tall buildings. These are called vertical farms. (Vertical means up and down.)

Vertical farms have become more common in the past few years. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many office workers started working from home. Their office buildings were empty. Vertical farms give these buildings a new purpose. They allow fresh food to be grown right in cities for the people who live there. This means less food needs to be brought in from faraway farms.

Indoor farming is very different from outdoor farming. Plants need sunlight and water to grow and pollinators like bees to produce fruits. Indoor plants don’t have any of these things—not without help from people. Instead of the Sun, farmers use special lights, and instead of bees, they use special technology that can pollinate crops.

Courtesy of Area 2 Farms

All kinds of vegetables are grown at Area 2 Farms!

In some ways, indoor farming is more difficult than outdoor farming. But in other ways, it’s easier. Indoor farmers don’t have to worry about bad weather or pests destroying their crops. And since they can also control the indoor temperature, they don’t have to stop growing crops during the winter.

Vertical farmers are growing cucumbers, lettuce, strawberries, and more. And they’re working on ways to grow fruit trees.

Tall city buildings may look black, gray, and silver, but many of them are green inside!

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Fun Fact

A bunch of bananas with googly eyes wears a number 1 foam finger and says we’re number one to a group of onions with googly eyes.

© Nikolai Sorokin, Sergii Koval, goir, Ian Dyball/Dreamstime.com; Photo illustration Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Can you guess which fruits and vegetables people love the most? In the United States, bananas and potatoes are the most popular, followed by apples and onions.

Pollinator Pals

© torook/stock.adobe.com; © Heiko Kueverling/Dreamstime.com; © Jinfeng Zhang/Dreamstime.com; © Seanjeeves | Dreamstime.com; © EcaterinaLeonte/stock.adobe.com; © Julio Salgado/Dreamstime.com

We couldn’t grow our food without pollinators. Pollinators, like bees, visit flowers to get nectar and pollen (which are food for them and their young). In the process, they move pollen from one part of the plant to another. This allows the plant to reproduce and make a lot of the food that we eat.

Bees are only one kind of pollinator. Below are some other pollinators you might not know about. Check out the slideshow to find out what they look like!

Wasps

Wasps are farmers’ helpers. They pollinate many plants, and they also eat insects that can destroy crops.

Beetles

Like wasps, ladybugs and other beetles eat a lot of the insects that can harm crops. Beetles are also good pollinators.

Butterflies

Butterflies aren’t just pretty to look at. They also move pollen in cilantro, cabbage, broccoli, sage, and chamomile crops.

Moths

Bees are hard-working pollinators, but scientists say they skip certain plants that don’t have enough nectar. Moths visit many of those plants, helping to pollinate them.

Flies

Even houseflies are pollinators! And, without a certain type of fly to pollinate them, we wouldn’t have cacao plants, which means we wouldn’t have chocolate!

Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds may be small, but they eat a lot of nectar—which means they pollinate a lot of plants!

Bats

Bats are pollinators too! Without bats, we wouldn’t have guavas, mangoes, or bananas.

Wonderful Wasps?

© Ericos—Creatas Video+/Getty Images Plus

Were you surprised to learn that wasps are helpful pollinators? There’s a lot more to know about wasps!

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Word of the Day

circulate

Part of speech:

verb

Definition:

: to cause (something) to go or spread from one person or place to another

Definitions provided by
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