What is vertical farming?

Watch an amusing explanation of vertical farming on the colbert report.
Dr. Desmond Despommier, of the Vertical Farm Project, describes vertical farming as indoor farming done in climate controlled, multistoried buildings found in the heart of urban centers. You can also watch the video at the bottom of the page for a brief explanation of vertical farming.

Vertical farming's IMPACT on the world.

In the next 50 years approximately 80% of the world's populations will live in cities or urban centers. Transporting food is an expensive business, which requires the use of fossil fuels and preservatives to keep the food fresh. This is leading many people to support local farmers, but if more and more people will live in cities, the closest farms will be miles away. The human population continues to increase which means that food production also needs to increase. According to Desmond Despommier of the vertical farm project the solution to reducing transportation for food during an ever increasing demand may be vertical farming. Or, maybe this is the way to solve the problem of vanishing arable land due to overfarming, drought, and increased industrial agriculture.

BENEFITS of Vertical Farming.

Since vertical farming is indoors it allows for year-round crop production that is not susceptible to droughts, floods, or pests. It also reduces agricultural runoff because it recycles the black water produced in the building. Since there are no tractors or plows being used and very little shipping the amount of fossil fuels being used is drastically reduced.

DRAWBACKS of Vertical Farming.

Philip Proefrock and Hank Green don't think that vertical farming makes sense due to high construction costs, and the costs of artifical lighting.

They wrote the following, "A farmer can expect his land to be worth roughly $1 per square foot...if it's good, fertile land. The owner of a skyscraper, on the other hand, can expect to pay more than 200 times that per square foot of his building. And that's just the cost of construction. Factor in the costs of electricity to pump water throughout the thing and keep the plants bathed in artificial sunlight all day, and you've got an inefficient mess.

Just looking at those numbers, you need two things to happen in order for vertical farms to make sense. You need the price of food to increase 100 fold over today's prices, and you need the productivity of vertical farms to increase 100 fold over traditional farms. Neither of those things will ever happen. And as much as I hate to burst bubbles, the main claim to the efficiency of vertical farms (the elimination of transportation costs) is not valid."

Here's why I'm interested...
Initially I was drawn to vertical farming simply because I thought be able to grow plants on a skyscraper was pretty cool. The more I read about it the better an idea I think it might be for providing food locally for a growing population. There is a project in the works to build a vertical farm in Newark, NJ!

external image vertical-farming.jpg

AgricultureTopic Ideas and Resources

Genetically engineered food
The history behind chemical fertilizers and pesticides
Golden Rice
Organic farming
Hormones in food may lead to early puberty
Farmer's markets and "Eating local"
The Dust Bowl
Edible forest gardens
Lab grown beef and The Frankenburger
Vegetation Management by sheep and others
Heirloom produce and seed banks
The effects of droughts and floods
Factory Farming
World meat consumption and how it's changed
Soil conservation: no-till farming, terrace Farming, strip farming
Irradiated foods and nuclear radiation in the food supply
The creation of superbugs: Pesticide resistance
Pesticides creating allergies? ADHD? Parkinson's disease
The Seafood Watch Program - sustainable fishing
Climate change impact on farming
Where have the bees gone?
Integrated Pest Management