It is a sign of the times: Rapidly expanding commercial marijuana-growing facilities are defining a new model for indoor food production and processing. The rapid innovation and processes related to this burgeoning industry are already having an impact on traditional farming. At the same time, population growth experts assert that by 2050, agricultural production will need to rise by 70 percent to meet projected demand. Indoor agriculture will play an important role in this new era of food production too.
Today, indoor farming is a $500 million industry, and significant expansion is expected. Drivers include urbanization, the local-food movement and consumer preference for fresh foods. Boutique indoor vegetable-growing facilities have cropped up in metropolitan areas, and some are likely blossom into large-scale commercial facilities with continuous food production to meet market demand.