The Urban Horticulture and Landscaping Management program at Pickens Tech sets you up with the tools and skills you’ll need to enter the workforce ready to go. That workforce and the companies that provide it are changing as the culinary industry explodes in the Denver area. More companies than ever before are popping up in Colorado offering fresh ingredients to local restaurants all over the state. And they’re taking more control of the fresh vegetables and fruit they produce. Horticulture experts, especially those like you who are experienced with urban horticulture and how to make urban food webs work, are using urban space more creatively to produce tasty, fresh, natural ingredients. The trend is growing.
There are several urban horticulture companies in the Denver area and beyond growing crops indoors in highly-regulated areas created specifically to grow high-quality crops with less risk and lower costs. One shining example of how urban farming can work well is Altius Farms, founded by Sally Herbert.
Altius has a huge greenhouse in Denver at 25th and Lawrence that houses the entire Altius urban farm, growing 28 types of plants, from several varieties of lettuce to edible flowers. Altius saves on production costs by designing vertical towers for the crops to grow on. With this setup, Altius produces 10 times the harvest as conventional farms, using only 10% of the water typically needed. For light, the greenhouse uses the abundant sunshine in Colorado, except for when nurturing seedlings.
Learning how to operate the sophisticated closed environment of Altius’ greenhouse is an example of how technology is changing this industry and giving rise to new creativity in the urban horticulture and landscaping sphere. And you can be a part of that.
A Global Phenomenon
Urban greenhouses like Altius’ in Denver have been used to produce crops and fresh ingredients in Japan for nearly 50 years, but in 2010, with the introduction of LED grow lights, urban greenhouse food production shot up in a country that imports 60% of its food. It’s estimated that at a greenhouse owned by the urban horticulture company Spread in Kameoka can produce a head of lettuce for only 80 yen, or about 71 cents, using its high-tech approach. With the climate worsening in Japan and all over the world, more agriculture will be forced inside to help stabilize food markets increasingly hampered by natural disasters and off-kilter growing seasons.
Skills for the Future
The importance of urban horticulture has never been more apparent than it is right now. With companies in Colorado and all over the world investing in greenhouses and working to lower food and production costs, there will be room for your skills as an urban horticulture expert, particularly in greenhouses when you graduate from Pickens’ Horticulture program. Technology in this sector is bringing about changes no one thought possible. It’s an exciting time to learn about how to use urban spaces to grow food.