Seoul to adopt urban agriculture by introducing ‘vertical farms’

April 14, 2015


Seoul City Hall is planning to introduce “vertical farms.”

The farms would be three stories high, with vegetables and crops grown on the second and third floors, while the first floor would serve as a classroom for teaching agriculture, city officials said Tuesday.

The farms will be computer controlled to provide the right light, temperature and humidity, and check carbon dioxide levels.

The western district of Yangcheon will be home to the first farms.

Ecologist Dickson Despommier introduced the concept of vertical farms at Columbia University in 1999, promoting mass commercial cultivation of plants in skyscrapers.

Vertical farming already operates in Japan. Japanese electronics company Panasonic built the world’s first vertical farm in Singapore, which delivered quality fruit and vegetables to restaurants in Japan.

Korea attempted its first vertical farm in the city of Namyangju in Gyeonggi Province in 2009. The plan was stopped when it was not considered cost effective.

“Normal vinyl houses cost 200,000 won ($182) to 300,000 won ($273) per pyeong (3.3058 square meters) to build,” Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs official Lee Young-sik said in a report on the farms. “Glass greenhouses, meanwhile, cost one million won ($911), whereas a vertical farm costs 10 million won ($9,110). Despite the differences in the costs of building the farms, the crops’ prices were all similar, so cost-effectiveness wasn’t good for the vertical farm.”

The Seoul government says the reason for the vertical farms is not commercial gain, but to develop new technology and expertise in this method of agriculture.

Edit: An earlier version of the article provided a miscalculated conversion between pyeong and square meters. It has since been changed to reflect a more accurate value.


  1. Brett

    April 14, 2015 at 7:56 PM

    “per pyeong (9,917 square meters)”.
    1 pyeong = 3.3058 square meters

  2. Hyeonho

    April 14, 2015 at 8:59 PM

    Brett knows what he’s talking about. A pyeong is about the area of a rectangle drawn to enclose a person laying down with arms extended.

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  9. Michael

    April 15, 2015 at 7:56 PM

    I have been spouting off about this kind of concept for years! People here in the US think I am crazy due to how much land farmers have access to here. I knew KNEW that somewhere in a country of limited space someone would look into this concept seriously.

    Personally, if you were to make your power generation efficient for the building you could even justify every Grocery Store having one of these attached. Saving on transport as well. Imagine being able to have Grocers or their clients pick produce right off the vine.

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    April 15, 2016 at 3:16 AM

    Interesting. the article is superb, good job thanks.