Soil-based agriculture is so passé. Nothing short of an agricultural revolution is underway, spurred on by visionary Dr. Dickson Despommier of Columbia University. His plan is to build 30-story greenhouses in cities around the world, which will allow us to produce more food, for less money, in a healthier way, while freeing up arable land for nature.
By growing crops without the use of soil - hydroponically - “fields” can be stacked on top of each other in urban areas, to grow fruits, vegetables, grains, you name it. The vertical farms work as a closed circuit, so all the water and nutrients are recycled, and only the produce actually leaves the building.
I his book, The Vertical Farm , Dr. Dickson Despommier explains the considerable advantages vertical farming holds over traditional farming (organic or otherwise):
1. It allows year-round crop production.
2. It provides food to areas lacking arable land.
4. It re-uses the water by collecting it through de-humidification.
5. It has no need for the use of pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides, and as such makes for healthier, clean food (even more so than today’s organic food which is prone to the bacteria occurring in for instance manure).
6. It drastically reduces dependence on fossil fuels, as the food needn’t be shipped to the city (because it’s there already).
7. There is no crop loss due to shipping or storage.
8. Reduced food costs as a consequence of reduced distance between producer and consumer.
9. Urban farms would create a cadre of related businesses in its vicinity, such as bakers, produce stores etc.
10. It would employ a lot of both skilled and unskilled labor.
11. Vertical farms would be entirely carbon free, and run on wind, solar, tidal or geothermal energy.
Imagine if all the world's farm land was no longer needed? It could be used for, well, nature. A transition to vertical farming could produce clean, cheap food in abundance. My only question is, Why aren’t we already doing this?
You can read more about this inspiring idea in the The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century and watch the video below.