Advocacy Is Key In Vertical Farming
Stella Tsai began her journey in vertical farming more than 8 years ago. Today, as our Group Facilitator, she leads technology transfer at our partner vertical farms worldwide. In this short Q&A, Stella discusses the importance of advocacy on issues such as equality and diversity, health and sustainability in vertical farming.
Would you say vertical farming is more inclusive than other industries?
Vertical farming is resetting the male-dominated industry standard. Not only is this a new, young industry without an existing culture but also a health business. We are producing food for the current and future generations. That is why it is vital to create a neutral, unbiased business culture.
As a new industry, men and women are more likely to have equal opportunities. If there are more female leaders in this industry, it can bring a much-needed perspective and thoughtful decision-making. I think this industry is more inclusive because it is related to food. This is because food is universal and a basic need for humans. It is not just a business but an industry that produces better food for everyone.
What is some advice that you would give to women in urban agriculture?
People need to trust their ability to let their efforts and work speak for them. I have noticed that sometimes women will set limits for themselves. A lot of working women feel pressured by their families or society. But I say to them, "no one has said no to you, so why do you limit yourself, just focus on what you want to do." Dreams do not expire after a certain age. Women are the key to keeping this industry from being run on a singular profit-oriented mindset.
What are your thoughts on the future of vertical farming?
A lot of early investors in vertical farming saw a young industry with a lot of potentials. While it is necessary to have a successful business, we have to keep in mind the original driving force was taking care of the environment.
Nowadays, the traditional farming industry seems to have forgotten the reason it began. It has become heavily commercialized. Nowadays, farmers will keep spraying pesticides to grow more crops and earn more money.
By popularizing vertical farming and uplifting women and younger people, we can transform agriculture. We can compete with traditional farming, not only by having a higher yield, but also by taking care of the environment.
How does the vertical farming industry address climate change?
As a vertical farming company with the potential to improve the environment, we have the moral responsibility to create an equal platform for everyone. When everyone, men and women, put their thoughts together, I think this will improve the industry and create meaningful change.
It is possible for vertical farming to be part of the solution to the food crisis. When vertical farms produce food, we don't use pesticides or cut down trees. Vertical farming combined with renewable energy sources cuts down on CO2 emissions, gives traditional farming back to forests, and reduces food miles by centralizing food production.