As Emily mentioned – most people want to help with environmental sustainability but do not undertake any proactive or productive actions to improve the situation. And I, to my shame, am guilty as charged when it comes to this accusation. Whilst I acknowledge earth’s resources are decreasing at a expeditious rate, I feel disassociated from the eco-system and its relation to production; it seems that every production system impacts the environment negatively and there is no easy solution. Thus, I turn a blind eye to the environmental problems we face.
I do not think I am the only one to do this. In fact it did not surprise me when Natalie Jeremijenko, environmental art activist, found that none of her students could account for who made the objects they carried everyday, or how they were made. For although we are in an age of information overload, there is also much ‘profound ignorance’. (Nelson 2011)
Jeremijenko interests me and it is not only her eccentricity that captivates my imagination. Instead, I admire her vision, her aim to repair ‘our intimate relationship with non-human organisms’ (Nelson 2011), placing faith into a future where ‘cities host healthy populations of fish, and in which tall buildings house hundreds of different edible plants.’ (Nelson 2011) Unbelievably, her vision is not longer just that but reality – vertical farms are currently being built in Sweden, Singapore, Japan, Korea and the U.S.A. And the statistics are incredible:
K E Y F A C T S
1. If we continue utilising the same agricultural methods we will need an additional land area equivalent to the size of Brazil to produce enough crops (Möller Voss 2013)
2. By 2025 two thirds of the world will be facing water shortages – on a global scale modern agriculture uses 70% of available fresh water (Ellis 2012).
V E R T I C A L F A R M I N G
Vertical farming utilises hydroponics and aeroponics within a closed loop system, conserving up to 95% of the water used as well as ‘eliminating agricultural run-off and the negative repercussions it has on the environment and human health in general’ (Despommier 2010).
Hyrdroponics : Plants are grown with their roots in nutrient solution or a supporting medium ie. sand, gravel, perlite etc, creating a soilless environment; statistics have shown that plants grown using hydroponics grow faster, ripen earlier, provide greater nutritional value and produce up to ten times the yield than that of soil-grown plants. (Ellis 2012)
Aeroponics : plants are grown with their roots suspended in a deep air or growth chamber whilst periodically sprayed with nutrient solution; this method operates with up to less than 70% water than hydroponic technologies (Despommier 2010)
Even more importantly, the movement of agriculture to vertical farms conserves space, increasing food production and crop output for every acre used. And by relieving the land currently used for agriculture, ecosystems can begin the gradual and natural process of repair; ecosystem regrowth increases ‘natures resilience and resistance to disturbance and pollution, increasing biodiversity and carbon sequestration to name a few’ (Despommier 2010).
Quite frankly, count me in for Vertical Farming.
B I B L I O G R A P H Y
Appareil 2012, Agriculture 2.0, viewed 8 October 2014, <http://www.evolo.us/architecture/urban-vertical-farming-generative-system-for-a-vegetable-growing-infrastructure/>
Despommier, D 2010, The Vertical Farm: Feeding the world in the 21st century, 2nd ed, Thomas Dunne Books, New York
Ellis, J 2012, ‘Agricultural Transparency Reconnecting Urban Centres With Food Production’, PhD Thesis, Dalhousie University, School of Architecture, Halifax
Möller Voss, P 2013, ‘Vertical Farming: An agricultural revolution on the rise’, PhD Thesis, Halmstad University, Sweden
Nelson, R 2011, ‘Our Agency is Powerful: Future Foods for Humans and the Planet’, Arena Magazine, No. 114.
Ohare 2011, World’s First Airport Aeroponic Garden, Flickr viewed 8 October 2014, <https://www.flickr.com/photos/tahneelynn/8411953479/in/set-72157632550479918>