Paul Lindvall Linköping Hans Hassle Plantagon Anders Jonsson Tekniska Verken

Breaking new ground: Paul Lindvall, mayor of Linköping, Hans Hassle, CEO of Plantagon and Anders Jonsson, CEO of Tekniska Verken

Plantagon has staged a symbolic ground-breaking ceremony on the site in Sweden where it will build its first 'vertical greenhouse'.

Led by Dr Dickson Despommier of Columbia University in New York, proponents of vertical farming say it is the only way to meet increasing demand for food as the world's population rises and shrinks the horizontal space available to agriculture.

Plantagon's building is a dome that contains a helix-shaped planted area to help plants absorb high levels of sunlight.

Hans Hassle, Plantagon's CEO, said: 'With this greenhouse we're developing and fine-tuning the technical systems required for vertical farming in urban areas, together with several well-known Swedish partner companies. We want to gather expertise in the field, and our long-term objective is to create an international Center of Excellence for Urban Agriculture here in Linkoping.'

After drafting, it is estimated that construction will take less than 18 months.

The mayor of Linkoping, a town 200km south-west of Stockholm, was present at the event, alongside representatives of Plantagon and Tekniska Verken, an energy company involved in the construction of a clean-technology demonstration plant at the same location.

Below: The Only Way Is Up – Eurofruit's Tobias Gourlay reports on the potential future impact of developments in vertical farming.