Dr. Dickson Despommier, known as the father of modern day vertical farming, has been busy promoting vertical farms (and his book, The Vertical Farm) this month.
Interested in learning more about vertical farming, but only have a minute or two to spare? Here’s the cliff notes version of Dickson’s Vertical Farming vision.
Not enough? Check out the unabridged podcast: Dickson Despommier on the Rise of Vertical Farming featured on Treehugger.
What was that you said? You want even more? You can’t get enough of Despommier explaining the many benefits and possibilities of vertical farming? You got it! Check out the Dr. on Dylan Ratigan’s show on MSNBC: Rethinking the Future of Farming.
We’re so glad to see vertical farming getting some well-deserved attention, but we’re a little disappointed that mostly foreign vertical farms are catching Despommier’s attention. While he does mention The Plant in Chicago, there are other companies sprouting up all over the U.S., such as yours truly, that are well on their way to becoming commercially viable. Either way, we’re grateful vertical farming is gaining traction. Thank you, Despommier, for bringing vertical farming into the spotlight.
In his Opinion piece “The Locavore’s Dilemma”, published in the Boston Globe on June 16, 2011, Edward L. Glaeser contends that “farm land within a metropolitan area decreases density levels and pushes us apart, and carbon emissions rise dramatically as density falls.” http://articles.boston.com/2011-06-16/bostonglobe/29666344_1_greenhouse-gas-carbon-emissions-local-food
Glaeser’s assertion is true when “farm land” is defined as two-dimensional field agriculture, but false for “vertical farm land,” a nascent market where efficient technologies are being deployed to achieve high density, three-dimensional crop production with a small geographic footprint. Glaeser is either unaware of this technology, or failed to investigate it.
Companies like TerraSphere Systems are building and operating “vertical farms” – super indoor farms in tall buildings in cities, close to where most consumers live. They’re providing a year-round supply of fresh, locally-grown, pesticide-free produce that meaningfully reduces the energy- and water-intensity of field agriculture.
It has the promise of complementing, not substituting for, field agriculture in areas of the world that can’t grow crops due to climate constraints, or in densely populated urban areas that are far from where produce is grown. For certain crops and in certain locations, vertical farming is viable, both economically (lower cost produce) and environmentally (lower carbon footprint).
If the First Lady and Edward Glaeser want to help the environment, they should campaign for high rise apartments, with vertical farms on top.