Saturday, September 25, 2010

Organic apple pie in the sky

The survival of our species on this planet will in large part be determined by how our cities respond to the challenges of climate change and overall sustainability. One of the biggest and most immediate challenges that must be met is the transformation of our urban areas from economic black holes and enviornmental wastelands to productive, healthy ecosystems. No better place to begin than with food production. (GW)

The Farm of the Future: Harvesting the Sky

Will tomorrow's cities grow their own food? A proposal to conduct agriculture in skyscrapers.

Wall Street Journal
September 25, 2010

In his new book "The Vertical Farm" (St. Martin's, 2010), Dickson Despommier, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University, argues that in order to feed the cities of the future, we will need to learn to conduct agriculture in a new way—vertically. Specifically, he proposes building farms in skyscrapers, so as to use less land and to waste fewer resources.

Fifteen thousand years ago, there was probably not a single farm on the planet. Today, farms occupy a landmass the size of South America (and that excludes land set aside for grazing). Mr. Despommier believes his designs would make it possible for an entire city to become the functional equivalent of a natural ecosystem, recycling food waste and wastewater and returning a significant amount of farmland to its natural state.

Though some farming is already done indoors—strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, herbs and spices are now grown profitably by commercial greenhouses—no one has yet tried to build a working vertical farm. Urban planners are studying the concept.

[Above] is a rendering of what a vertical farm might look like and some of the features that would make it work.


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