Vertical farming systems (VFS) have been proposed as an engineering solution to increase productivity per unit area of cultivated land by extending crop production into the vertical dimension. To test whether this approach presents a viable alternative to horizontal crop production systems, a VFS (where plants were grown in upright cylindrical columns) was compared against a conventional horizontal hydroponic system (HHS) using lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. cv. “Little Gem”) as a model crop. Both systems had similar root zone volume and planting density.