First vertical farming study meeting held in Charleston

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The first meeting for a vertical farming study in Charleston took place Thursday. Leaders from Clemson University, the Environment Protection Agency and the City of Charleston met to discuss the scope of the vertical farming project.

Vertical farming is an indoor farming technique where produce and animal life is grown in high-rise buildings in urban areas. Clemson University's Institute of Applied Ecology recently received funding from the Environment Protection Agency to develop a design-feasibility study to build a vertical farm in downtown Charleston.

Members at the meeting debated potential site selections for a vertical farm tower in downtown Charleston and what it would mean for the city.

Director of the Clemson University study, Dr. Gene Eidson, is looking forward to the science behind changing farming's footprint from horizontal to vertical.

"Everyday in South Carolina, we're losing about three acres of prime farm land and the growth is going to be in the cities so the big question is how do we learn to handle this concept in the city itself," Eidson said.

According to the City of Charleston's Director of Planning, Tim Keane, the biggest challenge of the project will be if vertical farming actually works.

"Most of the challenges have to do with the science and the architecture of it," Keane said. "Responsibilities of the city are the easy part of it."

The concept of vertical farming is still in the planning stages, but Clemson's study is considered to be the furthest along in the South, according to Keane.

The next meeting for the vertical farming study will take place in July. Leaders say they hope to have a vertical farming site design by that time.