More than Urban Farming

Farms in skyscrapers? New York could have local produce? No way! Dickson Despommier, a professor at Columbia University’s Medical Department, is an advocate for vertical farming as a way to save the environment, and produce more space for agriculture.

He notes the grim ag outlook on his blog:

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), released its 2011 assessment of the state of the world‘s agriculture:

ROME (AP): December 1, 2011 — The United Nations has completed the first-ever global assessment of the state of the planet’s land resources, finding in a report Monday that a quarter of all land is highly degraded and warning the trend must be reversed if the world’s growing population is to be fed.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that farmers will have to produce 70 percent more food by 2050 to meet the needs of the world’s expected 9 billion-strong population. That amounts to 1 billion tons more wheat, rice and other cereals and 200 million more tons of beef and other livestock.

But as it is, most available land is already being farmed, and in ways that often decrease its productivity through practices that lead to soil erosion and wasting of water.

That means that to meet the world’s future food needs, a major “sustainable intensification” of agricultural productivity on existing farmland will be necessary, the FAO said in “State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture.”

A helpful boost in the right direction? The vertical farm:

Other urban farming methods of the future(now):

Window farms

Window farms are vertical, hydroponic gardens that grow in your window! Great for small spaces and urban environments. Britta Riley built the first window farm after reading Michael Pollan’s New York Times’ Magazine article “Why Bother?” Pollan suggests growing some of your own food to help heal “the split between what you think and what you do, to commingle your identities as consumer and producer and citizen.”

And, in the spirit of doing something good for the environment and its people, you can download DIY instructions to build your own windowfarm! Check out

Roof-top farming

From beekeeping to growing vegetables and herbs, the rooftop garden can be found in almost any major city. By collecting compost from the building’s inhabitants, the soil can remain fertile and the plants healthy.

Underground farming:

In contrast to the rooftop farm: underground hot houses! In Japan, a worker checks tomatoes growing in an underground farming facility.

Can you find or dream up alternative, futuristic methods of farming? I’d love to hear about them!


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