The April 1985 issue of THE FUTURIST featured an inspiring new book by New Alchemy Institute founders John and Nancy Jack Todd, Bioshelters, Ocean Arks, City Fanning: Ecology as the Basis of Design (Sierra Club Books, 1984). The visionary seeds they planted then are now coming into season.
Among the Todds' more intriguing proposals were multi-tiered city farms occupying once-abandoned ware-houses: Mushrooms in the basement; chickens, eggs, trout, and catfish on the first floor; hydroponic veggies on the second floor; third-floor lettuce; and rooftop wind turbines and solar-energy panels.
Even more intriguing were the Todds' micro-agriculture visions, such as park fountains used for irrigation, fish raised in bus-stop aquariums, and sidewalks converted to aquaculture ponds.
Now, these visions are being reclaimed, recycled, and renewed in towers that are half workspaces and half gardens, eco-laboratories and pyramid farms, and "living" skyscrapers with decks dedicated to food, fuel, or families. These and other inventive agro-architectural solutions take the ideas of city and indoor farming into a new, increasingly urbanized future.
The Vertical Farm Project, launched in 2001 by Columbia University environmental health science professor Dickson Despommier, collects ideas that promise to reduce agriculture's ecological footprint--not only by bringing food growers and consumers closer together, but also by extending "farmland" into a third dimension: skyward. …