Vertical Farming; an Idea Whose Time Has Come Back like All Our Precious Resources, Good Ideas Should Be Reclaimed and Recycled. Urban Agriculture Is One Such Good Idea Now Made New Again

Article excerpt

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.

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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.

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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. …