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  #21  
Old Posted May 3, 2010, 9:57 PM
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Why Planting Farms in Skyscrapers Won't Solve Our Food Problems


May 3, 2010

By Stan Cox

Read More: http://www.alternet.org/food/146686/..._food_problems

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- After doing a very good job of describing the terrible toll that agriculture takes on soil, water, and biodiversity across the globe, Despommier's article lays out a proposal to replace soil-based farming with a system of producing food crops in tall urban buildings-to, he writes, "grow crops indoors, under rigorously controlled conditions, in vertical farms. Plants grown in high-rise buildings erected on now vacant city lots and in large, multistory rooftop greenhouses could produce food year-round using significantly less water, producing little waste, with less risk of infectious diseases, and no need for fossil-fueled machinery or trans¬port from distant rural farms."

- Despommier describes how one of his scenarios-which are based on the use of hydroponic or "aeroponic" methods of growing plants without soil-might work: "Let us say that each floor of a vertical farm offers four growing seasons, double the plant density, and two layers per floor-a multiplying factor of 16 (4 _ 2 _ 2). A 30-story building covering one city block could therefore produce 2,400 acres of food (30 stories _ 5 acres _ 16) a year." By extrapolating numbers like those and assuming extraordinary leaps in technology, as well as the repeal of Murphy's Law, he has made such a convincing case for vertical farms that, he claims, "many developers, investors, mayors and city planners have become advocates." Time magazine has run a generally positive story on the concept. And an Australian architect is currently planning to build the first full-scale vertical farm, in China.

- Even if vertical farming were feasible on a large scale, it would not solve the most pressing agricultural problems; rather, it would push the dependence of food production on industrial inputs to even greater heights. It would ensure that dependence by depriving crops not only of soil but also of the most plentiful and ecologically benign energy source of all: sunlight.

- Agriculture as it has always been practiced-call it "horizontal farming"-casts an extremely broad, green "net" across the landscape to capture solar energy, which plants use in producing food. Photosynthesis converts a small percentage of the solar energy that falls on a leaf into the chemical energy in food. But that small percentage is enough; sunlight is plentiful, and left to themselves, plants do not have to rely on any other sources of energy to grow and produce.
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  #22  
Old Posted May 4, 2010, 2:45 AM
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Commercial farming takes advantage of such incredibly huge economies of scale, and individual people require such huge areas for their food, that this idea is very unrealistic.

These buildings (even if they're massive horizontal structures, and not these absurd skyscraper shapes) would be very expensive to build, especially with all of the automated systems and controls, and it would add a lot of cost to the food. Normal commercial farming is having problems as it is, and building these buildings wouldn't help any. The economics don't justify them.


But I think there might be some exceptions where this might be a feasible idea.

One could be for spices and other products which have low volumes, but sell for a lot, and which could fetch even higher prices if they were at the near perfect quality that could be achieved in a controlled environment. But for this they might be using greenhouses and things already anyway. And if these were to be built for that purpose, they would still be one story horizontal structures.

Another might be on places like Hawaii, where, if oil prices go high enough, the saved money in shipping costs might justify the cost of building these structures. But I have a hard time imagining it would come to that.


Although I think it's a cool idea and I'd like it if it was a practical one.
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  #23  
Old Posted Jan 22, 2011, 9:22 PM
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Cities alive!


http://whatmatters.mckinseydigital.c...s/cities-alive

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- Today, almost every built environment suffers from its past and continues to encourage a worsening of the social diseases of “sprawlism.” There are, of course, numerous exceptions to this paradigm. Portland, Oregon is one of the most outstanding examples of an enlightened view of city growth in the United States. Many medieval cities throughout Europe that survived into modern times also have put severe constraints on expansion—Freiburg, Germany, for example. However, most cities, regardless of location, have the unfortunate prospect of not being able to control their patterns of growth, despite the presence of city-planning departments in most of them.

- What is needed, in my opinion, is a radical change in urban philosophy; one that is based on natural processes and mimics the best that nature has to offer with respect to balance. The balanced ecosystem is often referred to as a “closed loop” entity: everything the system needs to thrive—water, food, energy, et cetera—already exists within it (rather than being trucked in!) and is constantly recycled. I would encourage all city planners and developers to take a long, hard look into the ways in which ecosystems behave. It is the model for how we should be handling things like water management, energy utilization, and the recycling of waste into usable resources. In an ecosystem, assemblages of plants and animals are linked together by a common thread.

- To be truly sustainable, cities must also learn to produce at least a portion of their own food. Right now, the world devotes an area the size of South America to growing crops and raising livestock. At projected rates of population growth, we would need an additional area the size of Brazil by 2050, but that much arable land does not exist. I have championed vertical farming as a start, to allow cities to produce large quantities of food crops in multistory buildings. This would avoid the need to encroach even more on the natural world to make room for farms that, in the long haul, are destined to fail due to unavoidable climate change issues.

- The idea would be to take today’s indoor farming techniques—including aeroponics, hydroponics, and drip irrigation—and scale them up dramatically. The Vertical Farm Project estimates that a 30-story, 3 million-square-foot building could easily feed 10,000 city dwellers based on today’s technology. Such high-rise farms could provide a wide variety of produce and even poultry and pork. Since conditions could be controlled much more tightly than in traditional agriculture, we estimate that one acre of vertical farm space could produce as much as ten to twenty soil-based acres. If cities were suddenly able to produce their own food, the quality of life within them would improve dramatically.



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  #24  
Old Posted May 9, 2011, 1:51 AM
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  #25  
Old Posted Aug 23, 2011, 1:37 PM
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=1clRcxZS52s" target="_blank">Video Link
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  #26  
Old Posted Aug 23, 2011, 9:11 PM
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There are other ways to increase food production than building up. We could reduce our consumption of meats and alcohol. I live close to a Budweiser plant and know thousands of acres goes to producing beer. To me I find that use a huge waste and could easily be used to produce more food.

But enough of my rant on over use of crop to create alcohol I will say a reduction on meats would reduce carbon emissions as well open up some land to crops. Yes some of the land that's used for animals is not always the best for crop growing and isn't an issue. But do we really need to eat a pound of meat 1-2 meals a day. I am not vegan nor am I a vegetarian, I enjoy a good steak every now and then and anything pig is wonderful. I just see eating meat is something that should be done sparingly.

Though I do love the idea of a vertical farm and would love to see them work out to offset the dependency large cities have to farms hundreds of miles away. It would also be good to learn as a species to find other ways to reduce waste, as in how we use the land we have to grow more or allow it to become natural once again.
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  #27  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2012, 7:25 PM
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A 'Vertical Greenhouse' Could Make a Swedish City Self-Sufficient


March 12, 2012

Read More: http://www.good.is/post/a-vertical-g...elf-sufficient

Quote:
The future of urban farming is under construction in Sweden as agricultural design firm Plantagon works to bring a 12-year-old vision to life: The city of Linköping will soon be home to a 17-story "vertical greenhouse." The greenhouse will serve as a regenerating food bank, tackling urban sprawl while making the city self-sufficient. Plantagon predicts that growing these plants in the city will make food production less costly both for the environment and for consumers, a key shift as the world's population grows increasingly urban—80 percent of the world's residents will live in cities by 2050, the United Nations estimates.

- The greenhouse is a conical glass building that uses an internal "transportation helix" to carry potted vegetables around on conveyors. As plants travel around the helix, they rotate for maximum sun exposure. Hassle says the building will use less energy than a traditional greenhouse, take advantage of "spillage heat" energy companies cannot sell, digest waste to produce biogas and plant fertilizers, and decrease carbon dioxide emissions while eliminating the environmental costs of long-distance transportation. And growing plants in a controlled environment will decrease the amount of water, energy, and pesticides needed. The greenhouse, which will open in late 2013, is already serving as a model for other cities.

.....








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  #28  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2012, 8:50 PM
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Originally Posted by M II A II R II K View Post
The greenhouse will serve as a regenerating food bank, tackling urban sprawl while making the city self-sufficient.

Say what? It's almost like a cult with these people.
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  #29  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2012, 9:02 PM
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Could vertical farming be the future?

Quote:
Rice on the seventh floor. Wheat on the twelfth. And enough food within an 18-story tower to feed a small city of 50,000.

Vertical farms, where staple crops could be grown in environmentally friendly skyscrapers, exist today only in futuristic designs and on optimistic Web sites. Despite concerns over sky-high costs, however, an environmental health expert in New York is convinced the world has the know-how to make the concept a reality — and the imperative to do so quickly.

With a raft of studies suggesting farmers will be hard-pressed to feed the extra 3 billion people swelling the world’s ranks by the year 2050, Columbia University professor Dickson Despommier believes a new model of agriculture is vital to avoid an impending catastrophe.

“The reason why we need vertical farming is that horizontal farming is failing,” he said. If current practices don’t change by mid-century, he points outs, an area bigger than Brazil would need to become farmland just to keep pace with the demand.

Working the soil has always been an uncertain venture, and Despommier argues that the price of crop failure is growing ever steeper as the global population mushrooms. “The world,” he said, “is running out of resources faster than what it can replace.”

Critics like Bruce Bugbee, a professor of crop physiology at Utah State University in Logan, see improvements in how future farmlands are managed as more practical and cost-effective. To Despommier, though, the world already has the need and the technology to dramatically improve yields and reliability by adjusting its point of view: from out to up.

The Columbia researcher said his interest in vertical farming is an extension of his long-standing work on disease transmission among humans. Among the laundry list of benefits he cites, Despommier believes vertical farming could help break the transmission cycle of diseases in traditional agricultural settings. But it’s the potential to help solve impending food shortages that really excites him.
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A recent exercise conducted by students in his medical ecology class found that a self-sustaining vertical farm able to feed 50,000 people could “fit comfortably within a city block,” rising perhaps 18 stories. With adequate funding, a smaller prototype could be up and running in seven to 10 years, he predicts. Eventually, full-scale versions could be a new feature of city skylines, climbing as high as 30 stories and filled with automated feeders, monitoring devices and harvesting equipment. And, of course, they would feature crops such as wheat, rice, sugar beets and leafy greens grown in mineral nutrient solutions or without any solid substrates at all.

These hydroponic and aeroponic growing techniques, respectively, have benefited from NASA’s strong interest because any long-term venture to the moon or beyond would require the use of self-contained and resource-limited growth chambers. Despommier concedes that current practices must be improved and systems put in place to quickly identify and quarantine plants stricken with pests or disease. “No pun intended, but the bugs need to be worked out of this thing,” he said.

He insists, though, that money is the last major obstacle. To his critics, that hurdle has tripped up past entrepreneurs and may yet be insurmountable. “I can’t be very optimistic about this study,” said Utah State’s Bugbee. “None of this is very new. But it doesn’t mean the whole concept is without merit. It just means the claims are greatly exaggerated.”

Bugbee’s chief objection is the exorbitant power requirement for such a vertical structure. Plants on the lower floors would require artificial light year-round or expensive mechanical systems to get more light to them. And during a typical winter in northern U.S. cities, he said, average sunlight is only 5 percent to 10 percent of peak summer levels due to sapped intensity and shorter days.

“November, December, January and February are really dark,” Bugbee said. “Plants aren’t limited by the temperature, they’re limited by the light.” High-pressure sodium lights may be a reasonable stand-in for sunlight to maintain plant growth, he said, but the electric bill is enormous. “Boy have a lot of people gone bankrupt trying hydroponic greenhouses for that reason.”

Nevertheless, greenhouses such as Arizona’s 265-acre Eurofresh Farms are thriving with their hydroponic tomatoes and seedless cucumbers. Gene Giacomelli, Director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Program at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said questions of safety, quality and sustainability are pushing agriculture in a host of other directions, including Despommier’s vertical farming idea. “He’s one extreme – a very good one,” Giacomelli said.

Several years ago, Giacomelli and collaborators in Arizona explored another extreme when they won a contract to design and build a growth chamber within a new building at Antarctica’s Amundsen-Scott Research Station. The chamber can be tweaked remotely by scientists back in Arizona but is now largely managed by volunteers at the station.

Besides supplying some much-needed color and light for the research station’s residents during Antarctica’s bleak and bitterly cold winter months, the indoor chamber has yielded a range of crunchy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, hot and sweet peppers and even cantaloupe. Next year, a student will try to grow watermelon in what is arguably the worlds’ most inhospitable place for a garden. Remarkably, the plot has produced about two-thirds of what top greenhouses in North America can deliver.

“I like to say that we can grow any plant anywhere and any time, but for a price,” Giacomelli said. The catch in Antarctica is that electricity for the lights and pumps has inflated the cost to about $50 per pound of fresh vegetables . “Now, the local person at the supermarket would say you’re crazy for spending that much money on vegetables,” he said. “But you give that number to NASA and they’d say, ‘Wow, that’s a good number.’”

Transportation costs
Back on Earth, Despommier said urban farms could defray some of their own expense by significantly cutting transportation costs. And as the local food movement gains in popularity with environmentally conscious consumers, he said, what could be more local than vertical farming? Despite a lack of major technological advances, the effort also stands to benefit from small but steady improvements in hydroponics and automated systems to control temperature, humidity and nutrient delivery, according to Giacomelli.

To curb the excessive reliance on electricity, Giacomelli’s own group is planning to experiment with fiber-optic tubes called solar pipes that can capture sunlight from the Antarctic growth chamber’s roof. Meanwhile, Utah State University researchers have developed a clear piece of curved polyethylene that can retain heat in the ground and extend the growing season by up to four months for summer squash and tomatoes.

As for keeping up with global food demand by growing crops such as rice and wheat, “we’re going to have to get better at farming marginal lands,” Bugbee said, “but it’s still going to be done outside because the sunlight is so cheap — well, free — and the sunlight levels are so high in the summer.”

He agrees that some farming will move toward more controlled environments, especially for high-value crops like fresh herbs that otherwise would be difficult to supply year-round. “Chefs will pay a lot for fresh basil,” Bugbee said, “but we’re not going to feed the world with that.”
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  #30  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2012, 9:24 PM
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‘Plantagons’, New Vertical Farm Design, May Provide Produce for Future Cities


April 16, 2011

By Michael Ricciardi

Read More: http://cleantechnica.com/2011/04/16/...future-cities/

Quote:
.....

Vertical farm concepts for the urban environment are not new, but now, a Swedish-American architectural design company (Plantagon) seems to have solved once of the biggest challenges of urban vertical farming: the need for uniform, sufficient natural light to provide even growth of vertically-farmed plants.

- The solution is all in the design; the “plantagon” features a vertical, rotating “corkscrew” platform for the crops and is situated within a huge, curved-glass, geodesic spheroid structure. By offering the dual benefits of cost-cutting and elimination of transportation, these “plantagons” are envisioned to spearhead the green urban living movement of the future.

- The design and concept is not without its critics, however. Some feel that this represents a “resource heavy” design and that everything — including soil, fertilizer, air and water will have to be imported (or pumped in , in the case of water) from elsewhere to sustain the farm. The construction materials and their transport are further cited as non-sustainable aspects of this design. Further, critics assert that produce would have to be manually harvested, thus reducing the actual productivity of the farm.

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  #31  
Old Posted May 11, 2012, 7:14 PM
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Vancouver Plans a Farm Atop a Parking Garage


Read More: http://designinghealthycommunities.o...arking-garage/

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Generally speaking, there’s not much on top of parking garages except cars. But in downtown Vancouver, B.C., a parking garage will host a high-density “VertiCrop” farming structure, the first in North America. Valcent Products has signed an agreement with the garage owners to build the 6,000-square-foot vertical farm, which will feature 12-foot-high stacks of growing trays on motorized conveyors that will ferry plants around to be watered, to catch the sun and, finally, to be harvested.

The array will produce about the same amount of produce as 16 acres of California fields, according to Christopher Ng, chief operating officer of Valcent. Ng says the patented technology was developed to grow food naturally in bustling urban environments and represents a paradigm shift in farming and food production — providing up to 20 times the yield of normal field crops, while using only 8% of the water typically required for soil farming. The company says the structure is designed to grow healthy, leafy green vegetables in closed loop and controlled environments, eliminating the need for harmful herbicides and pesticides, while maximizing taste, nutrition and food value.

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