Thursday, March 3, 2011

We're Moving!

Dear Loyal Readers,

As part of an effort to refocus the Vertical Farm message, we're moving the blogging operation 100% over to the main VF site, There, you'll have access to all the information you've grown to love on this site, plus weekly articles written by the one, the only--Dr. Dickson Despommier.

It's been fun learning and writing about the world through the lens of Vertical Farming, and I hope all of you find the new set-up more useful and enjoyable.

Thanks a lot!!

The Vertical Farmer

Friday, October 15, 2010

New Vertical Farm Design

The Incheon International Design Awards (IIDA) 2010 Award winners have just been announced on Design Bloom, and one of them is for a vertical farm.  The designers, Benet Dalmau, Saida Dalmau, Anna Julibert, and Carmen Vilar expain: 
We wanted to build a new environmentally-friendly town where the environment is considered as an important part of everyday life.  We propose "Spiral Garden System": a public sustainable place like a green heart, easy to maintain and self-sufficient, created by a joint population that will stimulate social interaction among neighbors...To sum it up, we propose an ecological project in a way to give sustainable change to daily city lives, where humans and nature can coexist.
Sounds great to me!  And after looking at the pictures, I say: Do it!

To read more about this project and other in the IIDA 2010 competition, visit Design Bloom.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Green Right Now Interview with Dickson Despommier

Now that the book has been released, media outlets are increasingly interested in Q &A's with our VF guru, Dr. Despommier.  Below is an excerpt from a recent interview done by Samantha Weinstein of Green Right Now
What would happen if this was put into effect on a grand scale? What would happen to small farmers who are already struggling?
This is what happens already: The farms eventually fail and big corporations step in and say, “It’s okay. I don’t care if your farm fails. We will supply you with seeds and we will pay you a living wage to farm with our seeds.” So you have Monsanto and Cargill and other corporations taking over these small farms. Even if the farms fail on an annual basis for many years, it wouldn’t matter to Cargill because they own so much farmland that 80 percent will succeed regardless. That is why 2 percent of the farmers in the US control 50 percent of the farming. They take advantage of the farms that are already there. They buy their farms and say, “You can stay in business. We will even double the amount of money you made farming, but we want you to farm what we want you to farm.” And some farmers agree to that because they like farming. That’s not a solution though, is it? That’s an industrial application of a failing technology to an increasingly difficult situation where fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides have to be used more and more to produce the same amount of food. It wears out the land and spoils the environment.
To read the interview in its entirety, head on over here.

And if you haven't already, go check out the book

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Grab Your Copy In Bookstores Today!

I began today with a stroll to my local Barnes and Noble.  At long last, I was holding the finished product of over a year of hard work, and let me tell you, it was blissful.

This book is packed full of persuasive prose making the case for a new kind of agriculture.  Pages of shiny images accompany the text, limning the words with carefully selected visual stimulants.  If you don't already have your copy (it's day one, I know, but still...), I highly recommend grabbing one for you and one for your favorite niece or nephew next time you're at the bookstore.  If anything, this book will spark the imagination--and for that alone, it's relevancy is indisputable.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How to Solve Crisis: Use Less Water

I just came across a brief interview with the Director General of the International Water Management Institute, Dr. Colin Chartres.  The IWMI is one of 15 international research centers supported by something called the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, whose official Vision is: "To reduce poverty and hunger, improve human health and nutrition, and enhance ecosystem resilience through high-quality international agricultural research, partnershp and leadership."  (Seems like the CGIAR ought to have some good reasons to advocate vertical farming.)  Anyway, the part I wanted to share with you was what Dr. Colin Chartres had to say when Nature asked about the worldwide water crisis:
What is causing the crisis?
Agriculture is the biggest user of fresh water, making up 70–90% of the annual water demand for many countries. This will have to change, because global food production is going to have to double over the next 40 years to meet the needs of a growing population. Farmers will have to increase production without using any more water than they do today.
(image from Eco Localizer)
Well all right.  Can anyone think of a proven method of growing more food with less water?  I can.  It's going to be so important to increase the hydroponics education in order for vertical farming to have its best chance at success.  Groups like the Institue of Simplified Hydroponics and Boswyck Farms here in New York are empowering people with this knowledge, and I commend their efforts.  Still, if someone offered lessons to bodies like the IWMI and the CGIAR, I think we might see a broader shift in attitude around hydroponics--and attitudes can go a long way.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I saw this from Andrew Price over at GOOD magazine.

This "nomadic plant" functions as follows:
Vegetation and microorganisms live in symbiosis inside the body of the Nomadic Plants robot. Whenever its bacteria require nourishment, the self-sufficient robot will move towards a contaminated river and 'drink' water from it. Through a process of microbial fuel cell, the elements contained in the water are decomposed and turned into energy that can feed the brain circuits of the robot. The surplus is then used to create life, enabling plants to complete their own life cycle.
The designer, Gilberto Esparaza, has a history of coming up with projects that make you think twice about the world we live in.  For that, we thank you, Gilberto.  The world benefits when we're pushed to think.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Urban Ag Status Update

It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in a room with Newark's Deputy Mayor, Stephen Pryor, where he voiced Newark's support and pursuit of Vertical Farming in his town--our slogan, it was decided, would be, "Bringing the Garden Back to the Garden State."  Then Chicago's Mayor Daley trumpeted the same message from his mayoral throne, only to announce his abdication from the position a few short months later.  In New York, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has been very consistent in his advocacy for Vertical Farming.  And it makes sense that he should be: New York City is the most densely populated US city with more than 70,000 residents.  Unfortunately, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been more tepid in his support. 

I know it's easy to think that things are very stagnant in this sphere, that the naysayers are winning.  Actually, they're not, and I'm going to look at a few recent initiatives that bode well for our ultimate goal of a Vertical Farm-fed world.

Plantagon Is Cool

On listening to Dr. Despommier's interview on the Diane Rehm Show, it dawned on me that I've never posted anything about an interesting company called Plantagon.  They seem to be interested in effecting the same kind of future as we are here at the Vertical Farm Blog, so they've got our support.  This just goes to show that there's a ton of activity surrounding urban ag.  Which is fantastic.