Over the next 40 years, Vertical farming the United Nations predicts a global population boom, which will lead to a shortage of agricultural land. Great Stuff Hydroponics believes we can overcome this problem and help reduce the environmental impact of our cities by building vertical hydroponics buildings in urban centers.
Vertical farming guide
Providing food in the West is not a problem, where farmland and complex distribution systems are already available. However, the United Nations predicts that by 2050, there will be 3 billion more people on the planet, about 80% of whom will live in urban centers. This is a problem, particularly in developed societies where farmers are a dying breed and food often has to be transported over great distances before it ends up on people’s dinner tables.
Currently, some cities are greener than others; Singapore, Hanoi and Havana were all cited as food-producing cities. While not yet self-sufficient, other cities still have a lot to go. New York, for example, must import nearly every morsel of food that is consumed there, and trucking all that food into the city every day affects the environment and is an incredibly inefficient use of resources in a developed society.
The answer, according to ecologists, scientists and hydroponics enthusiasts is to stop all these wasteful practices by building hydroponics farms, vertically, in the heart of our cities. This will allow the lands around our cities to return to an unpolluted ecosystem of forests or grasslands, helping to fight global warming and climate change. After all, we have evolved into an urban type with all the ways to produce reliable crops every year in hydroponics at our fingertips. We need not depend on taking vast tracts of land with agriculture, polluting our atmosphere with delivery truck exhaust fumes, and leaving our crops at the mercy of the elements as our ancestors did. Over cultivation is a contributing factor to desertification, declining soil quality and unnecessarily harming native flora and fauna.
There is already significant public support for city planners and city councils who are making environmentally friendly decisions, dedicating themselves to keeping our countryside green and focusing on making our cities cleaner and more pleasant places to live instead.
Dr. Dixon Despommier, a professor of microbiology at Columbia University, came up with the idea of the vertical farm project, both as a solution to future pressure on land and resources and as a way to reduce the carbon footprint of our cities. Since the project’s inception, a number of eco-friendly “vertical farms” have been designed for New York City, Toronto, and Paris.
Toronto scientist Gordon Graff has designed a concept building known as SkyFarm that will be located in the center of the city’s theater district. Its 58-story tower design could provide enough food downtown for about 35,000 people per day. It will consist of different crops, vegetables and fruits, all grown hydroponically, using water instead of soil. While growing in hydroponics, plants are fed nutrients dissolved in water in a strictly controlled environment.
The benefits to the environment of food production in the greenhouse-like vertical farms in the middle of the city would be manifold. Not only is distribution vehicle emissions reduced by growing food where it will be eaten, but there is also no need for tillage, no digging, nor seasonal drought. Crops are protected from weathering and runoff or “dirty water” is disposed of as the water can be recycled within the building’s hydroponics system.
Also, since plants grown in hydroponics are done in a controlled environment, without soil, there are also no soil-borne diseases or pests to worry about; City food can be produced without the need for pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
Hydroponic growth only requires one twentieth of the water used to irrigate a farm growing the same number of plants, yet the yields are higher. Since there is a continuous flow of nutrients to the plant, the plant can focus its energy on producing fruit rather than roots. Hydroponic lights and a carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere inside a building can also increase food production by stimulating photosynthesis and extending the hours of daylight available to plants.
Gordon SkyFarm’s idea will be a fully self-sustaining building, powered by solar panels. He also says that the inedible parts of plants can be composted to produce methane; This biofuel is a source of renewable energy that can be contributed to the local energy grid. SkyFarm can develop into a scientific research facility or ecotourism hotspot, creating jobs and drawing attention to the city as a whole.
The spirit and goals of the vertical farm project have been received with enthusiasm around the world. The New York Sun Works runs an eco-friendly science barge to prove to the city’s residents that food can be successfully grown hydroponically within the city. School and apartment community groups are particularly taken with the project, which shows how using the city’s 14,000 acres of sunny rooftop space to grow plants hydroponically, could feed 20 million people throughout New York City and the surrounding area.
The most exciting aspect of these concept buildings is that they are possible with the technology already available to us. Not only that, but the townspeople who are tired of paying a premium to buy food brought to town from far away don’t even need a rooftop or garden. Great Stuff Hydroponics can provide beginner hydroponics kits along with all the materials and equipment that certified growers need, for use inside people’s homes. Given the right lighting and nutrients, any type of plant can be grown indoors, in water, anywhere at all, regardless of the season or climate.