True
Gates Foundation: The Story of Food

Can you imagine trying to feed 9 billion people?

I mean, it's hard enough to feed ourselves some days.

But come 2050, Earth will be responsible for feeding an additional 2 billion people roaming the planet. The question is: how to do that?


The answer isn't all horizontal. We can't keep clearing space and sending food halfway across the world. In fact, we need to look up. As in, like, literally grow food upward.

Vertical farms could be a big part of the solution to our food conundrum. And they are the coolest looking farms we've ever seen.

Image via CoolFarm, used with permission.

These bad boys look like something straight of the year 3000, only they're happening right now.

With traditional farming methods depleting the planet's resources, now is the time to look to alternatives that can help reduce that burden. To date, we've cleared space the size of South America for growing crops. And to make matters worse, 33% of the world's land surface is already degraded and can't be used.

Image via CoolFarm, used with permission.

Another problem is transporting food from point A to point B. For example, back in 2005, importing produce by plane into California alone released more than 70,000 tons of carbon dioxide — the same as over 12,000 cars on the road. Granted, this is a small sample size, but with an estimated 70% of the world's population expected to be living in cities by 2050, how are we going to ship food to them without destroying our air and water?

Vertical farms can grow produce with fewer natural resources and less waste. They can also optimize growing conditions so that the plants get the perfect amount of nutrients and light. (Hence the really cool lighting.) Plus, they're all across the world now, reducing the whole point A to point B problem.

Image via Green Sense Farms, used with permission.

They still have some pretty significant kinks to work out, though. For one thing, building and maintaining them is very expensive, so significant investment will be needed, and costs will need to come down to make them viable around the world. They also can't grow staple crops like grains and rice. They're not going to replace traditional farming anytime soon, but they could be a key piece of our food future — and researchers are hard at work to make sure vertical farm technology is constantly being innovated and improved so that this method is in peak form when it matters the most.

So, without further ado, here are 15 of the most awesome vertical farms sprouting up around the world:

1. AeroFarms in Newark, New Jersey

Image via AeroFarms, used with permission.

AeroFarms is believed to be the largest vertical farm in the world. Through their patented technology and controlled environment, they're able to give their crops the perfect amount of moisture and nutrients necessary to take their taste, texture, and color to a whole other level.

2. Square Roots Urban Growers in Brooklyn

Image via Square Roots, used with permission.

Square Roots co-founders Tobias Peggs and Kimbal Musk (brother of Tesla-founder Elon Musk) are paving their own green innovation using something with a distinct Brooklyn style — shipping containers. Even better, they're paying it forward and using their unique platform to inspire the next generation of real food entrepreneurs.

3. Plantagon's World Food Building in Sweden

Image via Plantagon, used with permission.

Still under construction, Plantagon's World Food Building aims to take the concept of vertical farming to heights it has never seen before. Once completed, the building's efficiency managing waste, water, and energy will be second to none.

4. Urban Crops' Plant Factory in Belgium

Image via Urban Crops, used with permission.

On top of conducting testing at their HQ in Belgium, Urban Crops also supplies their equipment to the world, so that anyone anywhere can create a vertical farm of their own.

5. Growing Underground in London

Just because you say vertical doesn't mean you can't look downward too. In fact, Growing Underground in London is the first vertical farm to do so. It's literally 100 feet below street level inside an abandoned WWII bunker. How cool is that?

6. Edenworks in Brooklyn

Image via Edenworks, used with permission.

On top of growing some of the freshest greens you can find in Brooklyn, Edenworks also raises fish in its indoor aquaponic farms. You can find their delicious, pesticide-free microgreens on the shelves of Whole Foods Market in Williamsburg, less than 24 hours from when it's picked.

7. Spread Co.'s Kameoka Plant in Japan

Image via SPREAD Co., used with permission.

Spread Co.'s Kameoka Plant is the largest-scale plant factory in the world to produce a single kind of lettuce. Their next step? Creating a technologically advanced automated facility.

8. PlantLab in the Netherlands

Image via PlantLab, used with permission.

The mission of PlantLab is straightforward — change the way we feed the world. To do that, they're using their revolutionary technology to not just grow produce efficiently, but also develop growing recipes based on their thorough customer and crop research. (That's right! Their ingredients have growing recipes!)

9. CityCrop in Greece

Image via CityCrop, used with permission.

Who said vertical farms had to be taller than you? This little guy from CityCrop is just one level, but it packs a big punch — it's perfect for home, allowing you to grow your own produce without ever having to go to the market. Or anywhere really.

10. Agrilution's plantCube in Germany

Image via Agrilution, used with permission.

Let's hear it for another little (but powerful) vertical farm! Agrilution's plantCube provides the complete experience and ecosystem for your home in a smart plug-and-play appliance. Oh, it also comes with an app so you can grow conveniently from your phone. (Wut?!)

11. Urban Farmer in the Philippines

Image via Urban Farmer, used with permission.

Mixing new technology with classic design sensibilities, Urban Farmer is distinctly Filipino, but international at the same time. And just like their fellow home models around the world, they're shortening the distance between farm to table to just a few simple steps.

12. Green Sense Farms in Indiana

Image via Green Sense Farms, used with permission.

When Bill Gates tweeted about the importance of the pink lights in vertical farming, he directed people to an article featuring Green Sense Farms. They're a full service one-stop shop that designs, builds, owns, and operates their vertical farms. That way, each little seedling can make its way to the supermarket with the utmost care.

13. Bright Agrotech in Wyoming

Image via Bright Agrotech, used with permission.

Like many other vertical farms, Bright Agrotech also supplies their technology to other aspiring farmers. And they're now the proud owners of the most installed vertical farm technology in the world. They're all about helping out local farmers, and they believe their work will be the future of food. We can't wait to see how that tastes.

14. GoodLeaf Farms in Canada

Image via TruLeaf, used with permission.

TruLeaf is the proud parent company of GoodLeaf Farms. TruLeaf takes care of all the technology and then supplies it to businesses and remote communities. GoodLeaf Farms, on the other hand, showcases all the leafy goodness that TruLeaf generates and supplies the largest food retailer in all of Canada.

15. CoolFarm in London

Image via CoolFarm, used with permission.

At their state-of-the-art test site in the U.K., CoolFarm highlights their incredibly advanced farming system that they're able to supply to more aspiring vertical farmers. They have iPad command centers, customizable parts, and a monitoring camera called "The Eye!" (Their name makes so much sense now.)

Today, there are still almost 800 million people who are chronically hungry. And by 2080, that number is expected to grow by 600 million more.

With continued innovation, vertical farms have the potential to be a key component of food access across the globe. They reduce carbon emissions, preserve land, and most importantly, expand everyone's tummies nice and horizontally. Solving the world's hunger and food access problems is going to take a lot of creativity, ingenuity, and solutions — both big and small.

And horizontal and vertical.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

What you look like in a selfie camera isn't really what you look like in real life.

We've all done it: You snap a selfie, look at it, say, "OMG is my nose swollen?" then try again from a different angle. "Wait, now my forehead looks weird. And what's up with my chin?" You keep trying various angles and distances, trying to get a picture that looks like how you remember yourself looking. Whether you finally land on one or not, you walk away from the experience wondering which photo actually looks like the "real" you.

I do this, even as a 40-something-year-old who is quite comfortable with the face I see in the mirror. So, it makes me cringe imagining a tween or teen, who likely take a lot more selfies than I do, questioning their facial features based on those snapshots. When I'm wondering why my facial features look weird in selfies it's because I know my face well enough to know that's not what it looks like. However, when a young person whose face is changing rapidly sees their facial features distorted in a photo, they may come to all kinds of wrong conclusions about what they actually look like.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker of Congregation Beth Israel.

A stranger knocked on the door of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas on Saturday morning shortly before Shabbat service. It was 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside, so Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, 46, made him a cup of tea. The rabbi and Malik Faisal Akram, 44, a British national, spoke for a few moments and then the rabbi went on to perform his regular 10 a.m. Shabbat prayers for his congregation.

When the rabbi turned his back to face Jerusalem, he heard a click come from the stranger. "And it turned out, that it was his gun," Cytron-Walker told CBS News.

Akram began screaming and a congregant, Jeffrey Cohen, the vice president of the synagogue's board of trustees, quickly pulled out his phone and dialed 911. A livestream broadcasting the prayer ceremony to congregants participating from home caught some of what Akram was shouting. "I'm gunned up. I'm ammo-ed up," he told someone he called nephew. "Guess what, I will die."

The FBI got word of the 911 call and quickly set up a perimeter around the synagogue. Akram took four people hostage, including the rabbi.

Keep Reading Show less
More

The airplane graveyard that 3 families call home is the subject of a stunning photo series.

From the skies to the ground, these airplanes continue to serve a purpose.

This article originally appeared on 09.18.15


What happens to airplanes after they're no longer fit to roam the skies?


An abandoned 747 rests in a Bangkok lot. Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

Decommissioned planes are often stripped and sold for parts, with the remains finding a new home in what is sometimes referred to as an "airplane boneyard" or "graveyard." Around the world, these graveyards exist; they're made up of large, empty lots and tons of scrap metal.

Keep Reading Show less