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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

talk crop


Indoor farming is an idea that has been around for a long time. It is done on a small scale in greenhouses all around the world, and many foods that we consume on a daily basis are grown via larger scale, hot house farming. Indoor methods such as hot house farming allow all kinds of produce to be grown year-round in a controlled environment, virtually eliminating the threat of pests and weather to the crop yield and removing the need for soil by using a method known as hydroponics to grow things. Hot house farming can be done anywhere, bringing agriculture to the most arid of climates. While hot house farming solves the problems associated with outdoor farming, it doesn't do much to reduce the carbon footprint associated with transport of produce. This is where the idea of urban vertical farming comes in.

Dr. Dickson Despommier, Ph.D a professor of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences and Microbiology at Columbia created The Vertical Farm Project. As a microbiologist and someone concerned with sustainability, he is a man after my own heart. The central idea of The Vertical Farm Project is to integrate vertical farms into the skylines of heavily populated cities thereby reducing the need to import produce and even small livestock such as chickens and pigs. The farms would be completely sustainable of course, using solar panels, recycling water, not using chemicals that can leach into the environment and kill fish and dolphins and baby eagles. Despommier's plan is quite impressive, and he seems to solve a lot of environmental problems associated with traditional farming techniques--especially the one about clearcutting rainforests to make farmland to grow crops to feed the projected 9 billion people that will be on Earth in 2050.

This plan could not come at a better time when it seems like world leaders are grasping at straws to do anything to reduce greenhouse gasses and couteract global warming. I can't think of a better way than letting forests grow where they once existed forever before we humans cleared them for crops.

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