Vertical Farming

I’ve seen the Future and Vertical Farming is It

Vertical Farming, or more definitive, Vertical Hydroponic Organic Urban Farming is coming to a town near you.  Or it should be, in my opinion. Yes, I know I’ve been on a farming bender lately with my blog, but hey, after air and water, food is pretty important to staying alive.

Even though I currently reside in a condo and don’t currently fancy myself possessing a green thumb unless it’s from paint, thanks to my mother and grandfather  et al, I’ve got  farmer’s blood  in me. And it is true that I’ve always been into quality food, health and nutrition.

Before I get into the cool pics and advantages of Vertical Farming, I need to bring up something else about our relationship with . . .

FOOD

Now of course, this ties in directly to the elephant in the room many people try to avoid confronting.  And that is the horrendously unhealthy typical American diet and its catastrophic effect on the out-of-control health care in this country.  Wait, we’re still calling this Health Care? More like Disease Management.

It’s the quality of food we eat – mostly processed and devoid of enzymes and basic nutrients in adequate levels. It’s the quantity too – most of us eat way too much food, much of it garbage.

It’s also when we eat.  Too many people skip breakfast or think a cup of joe is a sufficient breakfast. This is followed by eating the biggest meal of the day at dinnertime – often much too late in the evening.

Finally, lack of quality fresh food, effective, bio-available nutritional supplements, and eating while under time stress  and other stresses creates the inability to absorb and digest what we DO end up shoving in our mouths.

Artists Conceptions Gallery

There are a myriad of ‘pie in the sky’ artist conceptions and designs.

Perhaps a smaller model would be more easily created in a shorter amount of time.

Here’s a few interesting ideas:

Advantages of Vertical Farming

Year-round crop production; 1 indoor acre is equivalent to 4-6 outdoor acres or more, depending upon the crop (e.g., strawberries: 1 indoor acre = 30 outdoor acres)
No weather-related crop failures due to droughts, floods, pests
All VF food is grown organically: no herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers
VF virtually eliminates agricultural runoff by recycling black water
VF returns farmland to nature, restoring ecosystem functions and services
VF greatly reduces the incidence of many infectious diseases that are acquired at the agricultural interface
VF converts black and gray water into potable water by collecting the water of
evapotranspiration
VF adds energy back to the grid via methane generation from composting non-edible
parts of plants and animals
VF dramatically reduces fossil fuel use (no tractors, plows, shipping.)
VF converts abandoned urban properties into food production centers
VF creates sustainable environments for urban centers
VF creates new employment opportunities
We cannot go to the moon, Mars, or beyond without first learning to farm indoors on
earth
VF may prove to be useful for integrating into refugee camps
VF offers the promise of measurable economic improvement for tropical and subtropical
LDCs. If this should prove to be the case, then VF may be a catalyst in helping to reduce or even reverse the population growth of LDCs as they adopt urban agriculture as a strategy for sustainable food production.
VF could reduce the incidence of armed conflict over natural resources, such as water
and land for agriculture

As the world’s population has already surpassed 6 billion and billions more on the way, before we know it the traditional soil-based farming model developed over the last 12,000 years will no longer be a sustainable option.

Irrigation of crops uses 70 percent of the fresh water that we use. The excess agricultural runoff, contaminated with silt, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, is unfit for reuse.

VF food production will take advantage of hydroponic and aeroponic technologies. Both methods are soil-free.  Hydroponics allows us to grow plants in a water-and-nutrient solution, while aeroponics grows them in a nutrient-laden mist. These methods use far less water than conventional cultivation techniques, in some cases as much as 90 percent less.

For every indoor acre farmed, some 10 to 20 outdoor acres of farmland can return to their original ecological state (mostly hardwood forest).

A vertical farm will behave like a functional ecosystem, in which waste is recycled and the water used in hydroponics and aeroponics is recaptured by dehumidification and used over and over again. The technologies needed to create a vertical farm are currently being used in controlled-environment agriculture facilities but have not been integrated into a seamless source of food production in urban high-rise buildings.

High rises aren’t the only structures that could house vertical farms. Farms of various sizes and crop yields could be built into a variety of urban settings — from schools, restaurants and hospitals to the upper floors of apartment complexes. By supplying a continuous quantity of fresh vegetables and fruits to city dwellers, these farms will help combat health problems, like Type II diabetes and obesity.

Vertical farming can finally put an end to agricultural runoff, a major source of water pollution.

City dwellers will also be able to breathe easier – literally. Vertical farms will bring a great concentration of plants into cities. These plants will absorb carbon dioxide produced by automobile emissions and give off oxygen in return

One estimate for proof of concept: constructing a five-story farm, taking up one-eighth of a square city block, will cost $20 million to $30 million.

An actual indoor farm developed at Cornell University growing hydroponic lettuce was able to produce as many as 68 heads per square foot per year. At a retail price in New York of up to $2.50 a head for hydroponic lettuce, you can see how profitable this and other similar crops can be.

Learn more about Vertical Farming @ http://www.verticalfarm.com/

A New Way Of Farming To Save Detroit?

urban_agricultureThis is possibly not as crazy as it sounds. Granted, the notion of devoting valuable city land to agriculture would be unfathomable in New York, London, or Tokyo. But Detroit is a special case. The city that was once the fourth largest in the country and served as a symbol of America’s industrial might has lately assumed a new role: North American poster child for the global phenomenon of shrinking postindustrial cities.

Nearly 2 million people used to live in Detroit. Fewer than 900,000 remain. Even if, unlikely as it seems, the auto industry were to rebound dramatically and the U.S. economy were to come roaring back tomorrow, no one — not even the proudest civic boosters — imagines that the worst is over. “Detroit will probably be a city of 700,000 people when it’s all said and done,” says Doug Rothwell, CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan. “The big challenge is, What do you do with a population of 700,000 in a geography that can accommodate three times that much?”

Whatever the answer is, whenever it comes, it won’t be predicated on a return to past glory. “We have to be realistic,” says George Jackson, CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. (DEGC). “This is not about trying to re-create something. We’re not a world-class city.”

If not world class, then what? A regional financial center? That’s already Chicago, and to a lesser extent Minneapolis. A biotech hub? Boston and San Diego are way out in front. Some think Detroit has a future in TV and movies, but Hollywood is skeptical. (“Best incentives in the country,” one producer says. “Worst crew.”) How about high tech and green manufacturing? Possibly, given the engineering and manufacturing talent that remains.

But still there’s the problem of what to do with the city’s enormous amount of abandoned land, conservatively estimated at 40 square miles in a sprawling metropolis whose 139-square-mile footprint is easily bigger than San Francisco, Boston, and Manhattan combined. If you let it revert to nature, you abandon all hope of productive use. If you turn it over to parks and recreation, you add costs to an overburdened city government that can’t afford to teach its children, police its streets, or maintain the infrastructure it already has.

Faced with those facts, a growing number of policymakers and urban planners have begun to endorse farming as a solution. Former HUD secretary Henry Cisneros, now chairman of CityView, a private equity firm that invests in urban development, is familiar with Detroit’s land problem. He says he’s in favor of “other uses that engage human beings in their maintenance, such as urban agriculture.” After studying the city’s options at the request of civic leaders, the American Institute of Architects came to this conclusion in a recent report: “Detroit is particularly well suited to become a pioneer in urban agriculture at a commercial scale.”

And I would add, this is a great opportunity to explore the potential of vertical hydroponic farming models – even though they point out that there is plenty of land – horizontally speaking.  But that shouldn’t be a reason to ignore future tech.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE