Strawberry harvest in Santa Maria Calif

Could indoor vegetable farming be viable technology?

Every year during the World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif. there are those from other states trying to woo California farmers away.

I wouldn’t think it a difficult job for the consortiums selling their states under the banner “come to our state, we’re great.”

Okay, so it’s not that cheesy.

Earlier this year I visited with several of the states represented at the World Ag Expo and chatted with folks billing their states as the next great place to do business.

Years ago, I toured parts of Texas for a few stories along the same lines. Texas is one of several states regularly at the Farm Show touting their business-friendly climate.

A story out of Ohio points to a desire within the Buckeye State to woo vegetable operations to Ohio to build large indoor farming operations.

They’d have to be indoors given Ohio’s climate, but that’s not an issue for some. I visited a large indoor operation earlier this year on California’s Central Coast that grows fresh-market vegetables that are packed in clamshells and sold globally.

The article points to California’s drought and claims that the state lost 1.2 million acres of food production due to the drought as just one selling point Ohio has.

It’s not difficult to find examples of why California is not a good place to farm and do business. Sacramento is pretty much a poster child for all that is wrong with government.

Onerous regulations, high energy costs, the lack of sustainable water because of the abject refusal by state and federal lawmakers to address the state’s broken water infrastructure and a host of anti-business policies, make promoting other states an easy job for those involved.

Maybe Ohio would be a good state for companies to consider if they’re inclined to build large greenhouse structures that could grow vegetables for Midwest and East Coast markets. It would sure put them closer to those markets, thereby reducing shipping costs and providing fresher vegetables for local stores.

While greenhouse operations have their definite advantages – it doesn’t really matter what the weather is doing outside – there are other issues related to capital costs that could be prohibitive, particularly in California’s regulatory environment.

Perhaps indoor farming is something for California agriculture to consider. Not every crop could be grown indoors, but for those vegetables and other crops that could, there may be benefits to this that not only include agronomic aspects, but issues of labor.

Word has it that the large greenhouse operation I visited competes with the local strawberry fields for laborers, and thus has become competitive in terms of salary and benefits to the workers.

What if the vegetables we consume could be grown in climate-controlled greenhouse operations where disease issues could be better controlled and the hand labor needed to harvest these crops could be made more efficient?

TAGS: Fruit
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