Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The future of farming: vertical or horizontal?


Futurama Farming

We do love writing about vertical farms, the high-tech architectural/ technological vision for feeding our cities. (See our roundup of them here)

Graham Harvey writes in the Guardian that "Vertical farms may be the hot story, but a network of good old-fashioned kitchen-gardens would produce better food."

He notes that while vertical farms have a certain futuristic appeal, "There's no reason why conurbations like London and New York shouldn't be filled with city farms in the same way as Havana. There are thousands of small areas from rooftops to urban parks that could be converted to food production. In fact it's already started to happen. Last year Harrods announced that it would be growing a range of crops – including lettuces, broad beans and tomatoes – right there on its roof.

Alternatively there's a good case for converting "green belt" land around our cities for the production of vegetables and fruit for local people. Back in the 19th century London and other cities were ringed with market gardens supplying fresh foods for the local urban population. They maintained the fertility of their soils by collecting manure from the millions of horses that were then stabled in cities."

He makes a good point. We have shown hotels growing their own vegetables on their roofs, and there certainly is a lot of square footage of empty roof out there. Imagine if the roof of every Wal-Mart was a farm growing food for the produce department. Or if every front yard covered in grass supported vegetables instead. Perhaps this is yet another activity that is best done horizontally. ::The Guardian

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