Vertical farming on the horizon

G Magazine


Credit: (c) The Vertical Farm Project

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The future of the planet's agriculture doesn't belong to the soil and the fields — it is destined for the skies.

A new type of farming has emerged that challenges the notion of tradition farming. It's called vertical farming, a fusion of architecture and agriculture with a single goal in mind: to build towering skyscrapers used for growing fresh foods.

A single vertical farm would house several levels of agricultural growth, one right on top of the other. Fruits and vegetables would grow in climate-controlled greenhouses, producing more food than traditional farming by at least 200 per cent.

Vertical farming is still in its infancy, but it's a scientific model that carries with it a long list of solutions to many of the world's current problems, chief among them climate change and pesticide contamination in food production.

Growth of an Idea

The idea of vertical farming sprang from the minds of Dickson Despommier, a professor of environmental health science, and his graduate students during a 1999 medical ecology class at Columbia University in New York City.

Despommier challenged his students to feed 50,000 Manhattan residents using only 13 acres worth of rooftop gardens. It wouldn't work: only two percent of the quota would be fed.

That is, at least, until Despommier thought about using whole buildings for farming, rather that just the top. The concept started to gain traction from that point forward, and Despommier began working with a series of designers to create models that reflected the fullest potential of a vertical farm building.

Chief among these designers was Chris Jacobs, co-founder and creative director of United Future, a marketing and design company based in Los Angeles, California. Ever since he began his work on vertical farming Jacobs' designs have been well-received in the media worldwide, appearing in several publications, including Plenty, U.S. News and World Report, and Scientific American.

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