Indoor Vertical Farming

Food Security Promises, Technical Realities and Policy Approaches

January 18, 2022
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Online, Free
The event will be in English only.

Join us for a conversation on food security promises, technical realities and policy approaches for indoor vertical farming.

Indoor vertical farming has experienced considerable attention in the last years for its ability to reduce water use, be space-efficient (especially for cities), and to produce food without pesticides and independent of climatic conditions. For this nascent industry, venture capital generates large amounts of investment that also feeds a vision of vertical farming as high-tech food production system capable of ‘feeding the world.’ Concurrently, engineers and technology developers continue to improve technical systems of controlled environment agriculture (CEA). Policy makers have likewise turned to the question how to govern these systems. This panel provides insights from social science research, technology development, as well as policy perspectives to discuss the hopes and the realities of indoor vertical farming.


Tara Jodoin is a policy analyst within the Innovation and Growth Policy Division of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Strategic Policy Branch. She works with a team of analysts who focus on the socio-economic impacts of new and emerging technologies like precision, cellular, and controlled environment agriculture to determine their effects on farmers, consumers, competitiveness, and the environment. Over the past 10 years, Tara Jodoin has worked in the federal government on projects focused on science policy, international relations, and science computing. She holds a Bachelor (Hons) of Mass Communication degree from the Faculty of Public Affairs at Carleton University.

Dr. Thomas Graham is an Assistant Professor in the School of Environmental Sciences, holds the PhytoGro Research Chair in Controlled Environment Systems at the University of Guelph. He completed a prestigious Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and returned to UoG where he continues to develop a broad-based, interdisciplinary controlled environment agriculture (CEA) research and teaching program. His research activities encompass many international and domestic collaborations covering such topics as bioregenerative life support for human space exploration, northern and remote community food insecurity, high intensity urban and peri-urban agriculture, medical crop migration and standardization, CEA water remediation, and plant-environment interactions and optimization. Dr. Graham is also active in STEM outreach activities through such programs as TomatosphereTM, and he sits on several journal editorial boards and is an active peer reviewer.

Dr. Mascha Gugganig is the Alex Trebek Postdoctoral Fellow in AI and Environment at the University of Ottawa AI + Society Initiative. As anthropologist and science & technology studies (STS) scholar, her work looks at controversial technologies in food production, and how actors both construct and question nature-technology binaries in practice and discourses of high and (s)low-tech farming. In the case of indoor vertical farming, she studies sociotechnical vanguards’ problem framing to legitimize this high-tech urban food production system. Dr. Gugganig also designs and deploys arts-based research methods, and as a curator, she currently plans the symposium and exhibition “The Smartification of Everything” at the University of Ottawa.


Dr. Kelly Bronson is the Canadian Research Chair in Science and Society at the University of Ottawa, and the Research Lead on AI and Environment at the AI + Society Initiative. She is an Assistant Professor within the School of Sociological and Anthropological Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences, and a faculty member at the Centre for Law, Technology, and Society. Dr. Bronson is a social scientist studying science-society tensions that erupt around controversial technologies and their governance. Her research aims to bring community values into conversation with technical knowledge in the production of evidence-based decision-making.

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