7.15.2008

conceptual Urban Farming gone mad


















So apparently, there's this guy Dr. Despommier at Columbia who teaches the public health graduate program and about ten years ago he and his students made up some fairy tale, futuristic, vertical urban farms. If you read the article above you will see them in the slide show. Not only are they huge, but some of them are made of glass and are supposed to run "naturally" from solar light and wind. He created these because our cities have run out of old fashioned farm land and these towers of food farming will feed everyone locally.
It doesn't take a genius to know that these towers would be insanely expensive to build but they will also be expensive and not practical to run. The glass towers will turn into hot houses and the hydropnic irrigation sounds like you will need a full house of horticulturalists to keep the place in check from fungus, insects and mechanical problems. I would also like to note that there are plenty of empty and bare lots all over NYC that only need some raised beds and some TLC. Does everything have to be such a freaking spectacle of architecture and glam for the public just to simply get it?

8 comments:

roxsen said...

There is hope. As the co-author of SPIN-Farming, what I see every day are more and more entrepreneurial first generation farmers from all over the U.S., Canada, Australia, the UK and South Africa using SPIN’s sub-acre farming system as an entry point into the farming profession. They are using front lawns and backyards and neighborhood lots as their land base.This is not subsistence farming. This is recasting farming as a small business in cities and towns and integrating it into the built environment in an economically viable manner. It is "right sizing" agriculture for an urbanized century and helping to make local food production a viable business proposition once again. You can see some SPIN farmers in action at www.spinfarming.com

Alex Steed [of Make Something Happen] said...

"It doesn't take a genius to know that these towers would be insanely expensive to build but they will also be expensive and not practical to run."

This is essentially an argumentum ad populum - a fallacious style of argument.

"The glass towers will turn into hot houses and the hydropnic irrigation sounds like you will need a full house of horticulturalists to keep the place in check from fungus, insects and mechanical problems."

I would like to see some sources on this - I'd like to know more about these claims.

herbn' hoe said...

alex: ugh. There is nothing fallacious about my comment. It's unfortunate that academia and many of it's byproducts are pipe-dream believers of fictitious projects that are imagined by so called do-gooders motivated and inspired by a certain public recognition. There's nothing that can change my mind that those towers of farming make much sense in a community such as NYC. Sci-fi renderings of farm towers in a city would work in a fiction novel not here. I prefer to work from the bottom up as opposed to building a giant that will most likely be killed.
i don't have the time or patience to find sources for merchanical or irrigation problems in greenhouses, but if you talk to enough farmers with greenhouses or people who work with irrigation you will find that when dealing with hydroponics or containerized gardens you are prone to the laundry list of pests that need constant monitoring. Throw a layer of glass over everything and you have a whole new kind of pain. Listen Bub, I actually do this for a living.
There's a reason why people started growing things in the ground as opposed to their window sills or rooftops. Old fashioned farming is the best and most reliable way to produce natural and tasty goods to be consummed locally. Water levels hold longer in the ground, the sun is not as harsh and the logistics are quite simple. NYC has a shitload of empty lots and properties they are suitable for growing. Now, Dwell magazine and the NYtimes won't be able to put it in their style section' and they won't be able to feature it as PS1 as a new hot young architects design, but it does provide a cost effective and practical solution to buying locally. Check out your local CSA and maybe they can teach you something.

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