Several factors impact the current agriculture industry, making it unsuitable to support future increasing food production needs. Rising temperatures, frequent droughts, use of chemicals, soil exploitation, land availability, crops, and yield reliability are the threats we need to face.
These reasons and the increasing demand for locally grown food are raising interest toward CEA (Controlled Environment Agriculture). The greenhouse system is still the dominant industry. The concept of Vertical Farming is improving and spreading: it makes the best use of greenhouse technology while reducing the amount of land needed, as crops are grown in vertically stacked layers, and some farms use unexploited locations (urban basements, underground parking garages, and highway tunnels).
The development of the glass greenhouse, similar to the modern one, dates back to the Reinassance period. The necessity to grow topical plants arose when explores traveling overseas started to bring back non-autochthonous plants. These botanic gardens expanded throughout Europe to satisfy the wealthy class's desire for unfamiliar fruits and vegetables.
The greenhouse is now a suitable solution for dealing with the limitations of traditional farming, mainly the land water pollution due to pesticides' use. As the climate is changing due to human activity, the reliability of crops is reducing while the world population is increasing, raising the question of how we will feed the world. The greenhouse system will help us adapt to the increasing temperatures while playing a significant role in fighting climate change. CEA is more sustainable in terms of emissions produced, use of pesticides, land, and water. Integrate the greenhouse with a hydroponic or aquaponic system*, and you will drastically reduce the amount of water needed. A greenhouse can be built in every climate zone while recreating any climate within it. A hydroponic system for responsible water management will be perfectly suitable for regions affected by water scarcity. It allows growing non-autochthonous and tropical fruits/vegetables reducing transportation costs and related pollution. Indeed, a general trend of greenhouses moving towards metropolitan areas has been observed as consumers' demand for locally grown food increases in conjunction with the awareness of food production's impact on the environment.
The greenhouse, built in the past mainly for aesthetic reasons and research purposes, will, in conjunction with other CEA systems, will play a key role in addressing food security and sustainability issues. A technology developed for the few could be of such relevance for many of us real soon.
* Aquaponic system integrates aquaculture, the breeding of fish and other aquatic animals, with hydroponics, growing plants in controlled environments without soil but directly in water with mineral nutrient solutions