There is increasing evidence to support the assertion that our food system is “broken” and that in its flawed state, it has become a major contributor to the destruction of our planet’s ecosystems and the depletion of global resources. The Towards Sustainable Food Systems white paper – prepared by Thea-Isabella Otto at the Association for Vertical Farming – focuses on the role vertical farming must play in the successful implementation of a sustainable solution that supports a “new food system”.

When looking at generating a sustainable food supply on a global scale, agriculture is the first step in the supply chain and plays a crucial role in achieving this goal. Utilizing vertical farms to produce fresh food in areas where open field production is not environmentally feasible, reduces the pressure on produce-supplying countries, shortens supply chains, and delivers healthier produce to consumers.

It is not sustainable a few years from now to import food by plane. Norway imports strawberries worth €75mio via air cargo during the winter. Everything you air cargo you should grow in a vertical farm. Additionally, the water in California is decreasing and transport is a few days until it’s at the consumer.


The longer the transportation time to retail/consumer the higher the chance of contamination and food losses along the supply chain. Given that long supply chains lower the nutritional quality and reduce shelf-life of fresh produce, cities need to be more self-sufficient in the production of food for their citizens. To improve food security at all levels, society’s awareness of food and food production must evolve. This change in thinking begins with small but effective grassroots initiatives, like deploying small vertical farms at schools that educate our youth on food production systems and deliver a practical approach to nutrition and healthy eating.

We believe that growing your own food promotes healthy eating habits and a close connection to the living world around us. When placed in schools, Flex Farms give kids the opportunity to learn about agriculture while providing nutritious food to encourage lifelong healthy eating habits.

Fork Farms

A new food ecosystem needs to be created to change the way we produce food on a global scale. Vertical farming companies aim to have continuous efficiency improvements, introduce zero-waste policies, and use sustainably produced supplies and equipment as part of their everyday and ongoing operation.

sustainability definition UN

To balance the current food distribution inequalities a sustainable source of food for our expanding populations must be established. Doing so means increasing crop yields and introducing sustainably-produced food products.

Lowering resources is vital. Lowering our reliance on food imports is just sound policy, and more and more investors and governments are coming on board. We help translate that business model and work with groups such as government agencies and investors so they understand where the industry is at, and how we can all benefit.


The Towards Sustainable Food Systems white paper is successful in communicating the urgent need for a disruption in the current food supply chain. It is clear that the continuous depletion of our resources – caused by today’s food production and agriculture practices, will not adequately provide for humanity in the future.

FACT: Projections forecast we will need 70% more food by 2050.

Within today’s vertical farming industry, there is a firm commitment and ongoing effort to produce food more sustainably. Fundamentally, this is accomplished by growing crops vertically, more efficiently, using less land surface. The result is that year-round crops produced in vertical farms improve food security, achieve higher yields for farmers, and return precious resources to nature.

More about Thea-Isabella Otto:

During her studies of International Food and Agri-Business, Thea noted that we are constantly facing a fear of our planet’s destruction, which in turn fuels a perpetual and demanding cycle of win-win solutions. She realized that “sustainability” is much bigger and more complex. Thea admires the purpose-driven nature of vertical farming companies and she is inspired by their broader approach to ensuring a sustainable future.

AVF White Paper 2021 Sponsors

Association for Vertical Farming e.v.
Marschnerstrasse 55
81245 Munich

Agrilution Systems GmbH
Centa-Hafenbrädl-strasse 61
81249 Munich