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Plants cultivated at the vertical plant farm 'Nordic Harvest' based in Taastrup, a suburb west of Copenhagen.
Copyright  THIBAULT SAVARY/AFP

Ain't no sunshine on these farms: Why vertical gardens could be the future of food production

By Doloresz Katanich  with AFP

Producing locally-grown greens all year round can be done without soil or sunshine, as vertical farms across Europe are showing.

One of the largest shows why you should never judge a book by its cover. What looks like an ordinary warehouse on an industrial estate , in fact, the home of 'Nordic Harvest.' In Taastrup, on the outskirts of Copenhagen, racks of lettuce, kale and herbs grow under the purple glow of thousands of LED lights.

Technology is at the heart of their operations and they lean heavily on hydroponics - the science of growing plants without soil. Instead they feed on mineral nutrient salts dissolved in water.

Vertical farming is a rapidly growing industry in Europe. While set-up and operational costs are high, there is high demand amongst environmentally-conscious consumers. Traditional farming creates deforestation, biodiversity loss and transporting the produce creates a high carbon footprint.

Currently vertical farms have only figured out how to grow greens and herbs. Add to that the costs of the technology and the challenge of turning a profit, according to a recent report, and you can see why this is a brave industry to get into.

Watch the video above to see two of Europe's biggest vertical farms.