March 26, 2009

up! dirt farming without the dirt (now do we have time to get horizontal)

carrot city; future urban farming

"the reason why we need vertical farming is that horizontal farming is failing". here.

Well the first thing I thought of was a nice mobile sofa that I could propel down my beds, weeding and picking in my horizontal leisure...but that is not what Despommier means. He means in the soil and his alternative is elite, expensive and sterile: outrageously expensive highrise buildings, stacked steel, chlorine-treated water, pathogen measuring units, chemical nutrients: no rain splatter, insect or wind spread contamination, genetically engineered for the conditions and a rifd tag to trace it to the table. A standardized safety program for fresh vegetables with sterility the standard.

Can we, will we, those of us who farm with nature as close to inbalance as we can fit (where "pests" are prevented and encounter resistances precisely because of natures diversity) can we play those parameters?

What consequences will soiless, sterile hydroponic vegetable production have and how close to it are we?

Check out the April 2 2009 Ecologist article posted by The ETC Group:


When the banks collapse perhaps they'll be renovated to veggie towers.

And seawater cooled vertical farm coming soon to Dubai. Something tells me this isn't food poor people are going to eat.


ChristyACB said...

Actually, I don't think that is the intent at all. Go back and read the designer's vision, which specifically states it is a way to incorporate nature and the community need to grow food to bind people together as happier and more complete groups.

There is nowhere stated that GMO foods or no soil would be used, especially since these projects vary wildly.

I agree that franken food isn't good, but we do have to account for the wide variety of people in the world and not everyone can be set out in the middle of the country and left alone. We still need cities and wonders that only get created by people in wide variety working together. Designing a city that is nature rather than suppressing it is a huge step forward.

In fact, those towers, which are designed to hold and feed something like 500,000 people are entire biosystems. The food (no GMO at all mentioned) is grown by the people, compost is made and biomass is used to heat, power is generated from solar sides, and all grey water is used in the gardens which is then used again for people.

Sounds pretty germy to me! In a good way, that is.

If you've never been to Dubai or places like that, this is exactly the sort of thing they should be doing rather than what they are.

anne said...

Hey Christy,

The Ecologist article does mention Despommier`s inclination toward GMO, however loosely:

By invoking the green revolution Despommier is openly tying his ideological colours to his 30-storey mast. Remember the first green revolution, when a package of hybrid seeds, pesticides and fertilisers destroyed soils and tied farmers to debt? The so-called second green revolution, patented genetic-based agriculture, is still playing out. (When asked who will develop the crop varieties for his high-rise revolution, Despommier reportedly suggested that Monsanto would be the ideal partner). Both ‘green revolutions’ deployed technologies that displace peasant agriculture and drive whole communities off the land. The farmscraper vision completes that cycle of landlessness perfectly – freeing up countryside for new colonial interests such as biofuel crops and carbon trading``.

The odd thing is, our cities fill up and our countrysides empty (here we have no available doctors, school closing, rampant unemployment, etc. Personally, I am for revitalizing the rural areas with farming.

Anonymous said...

I agree this seems like an overly technological, engineered "fix" not likely to solve any real problems.

We need more people who know what real soil is and how to cultivate it.

Isabelle said...

I would not be in the least surprised to see this happen on a grand scale. This is the very thing that would create employment for the masses.

ChristyACB said...

Ahh...Monsanto is the root of all evil in my book!

However, I think it would wind up being a lot harder than he thinks to control what that many citizens might do in their towers once they have them. In a good way :)

anne said...

Hey Christy,
yah, M... seems to have its had in the cookie jar (now it owns Seminis seeds too (veg)).
Although I can imagine friendly solar towers with inputs kind to hinterlands...that isn't what will happen and there are far too many homeless people in the cities who need (why not solar) towers. Besides we have plenty of idle and neglected soil in rural areas.

If it happens, food safety wll sell em.