Thursday, September 11, 2008

The future's greener: Vertical farms and computerised car convoys could be just around the corner


Urban farming

Want to eat local produce but don't know how? Grow it yourself - on the balcony, in the driveway or even on the roof - with U-Grow, a home farming system based around hydroponics (growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions instead of soil) and aeroponics (growing plants in an air, or mist environment without soil). U-Grow will also collect any surplus in electric vans to resell.

Boosting local food supply reduces the need to transport, so reducing carbon dioxide emissions, Goodman explains. It would also ease the pressure on agricultural land by enabling more food to be grown in cities.

"It's an extension of a number of current trends," he says. "Already there is talk of the environmental benefits of growing vegetation on green roofs in built-up areas to create urban farms. And unlike today's veggie-box delivery schemes, vans would not go away empty."

Researchers at Columbia University are exploring the concept of "Vertical farms" - tower blocks (like the design by Chris Jacobs) where fruit, vegetables, fish, and livestock could make cities self-sufficient.

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