Friday, November 13, 2009

Vertical Farming Makes the TIME 50 Best Inventions List

Valcent Technology's VertiCrop System, which I wrote about here, was just announced as one of TIME's 50 Best Inventions of 2009. It is number 16.

Congratulations to Valcent for this recognition for its work in sustainable agriculture!

But is this really a Vertical Farm?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The UN Committed to Solving Global Hunger? Don't Be Fooled

We must give money to farmers in developing countries. It is, according to Jacques Diouf*:
“The most effective way to eliminate hunger from the face of the Earth.”
Bloomberg News published that in an article today that expounds the UN's commitment to curing the global hunger problem through, essentially, financial aid. The article almost convinced me that the UN is doing everything within their power to rectify this horrifying injustice.

But then I thought about subsidies.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Floating Vertical Farm

Small ports, Grub Hubs, dot the city's seaboard, serving hospitals, schools and restaurants, receiving and distributing food day and night. Floating Farms run on Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), which produces electricity and also turns seawater into fresh water, and underwater wind turbines that capture the power of tides (see: Verdant Power.) River Gyms act also as shipping vessels, bringing workers to the Vertical Farm, and delivering food to the dozens of Grub Hubs (also the name of a great website). Subways and Eco-vans further distribute the food, running fully on clean energy. Everyone is healthier. Everyone is happier. It's one vision; do you like it?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Today's Sciene Fiction Is Tomorrow's Science Fact

Some wonder whether Vertical Farms are too pie-in-the-sky. Some, like me, believe the idea is too good to pass-up. The true value of Vertical Farms, according to Cliff Kuang at Fast Company, may be the jolt of creativity it delivers to a bored world:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Through the Looking Glass

If you don't already know the term "ethylene tetrafluoroethylene," listen up. A light-weight, durable, self-cleaning, transparent alternative to plastic that was introduced years ago may prove to be useful in Vertical Farms, whenever and wherever they pop up.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Vertical Your Bedroom?

You want the benefits of local food production but you don't want to wait for Vertical Farms? How about Home Farming by Philips Design? Intrigued by the consequences of long-term social trends such as "the growth in popularity of organic produce, implications of genetic modification...and rising food prices," teams at Philips developed a way to grow some of what we eat for dinner in our own kitchens.

Read more about the Food Probe, as Philips dubbed this design project, on Treehuger, Inhabitat or Designboom.

(photo from Philips)

There's a Movement Afoot

It was a night to hobnob with farmers of the urban variety. In honor of Jane Jacobs, the writer and activist to first articulate the need for humans to live in cities, the Municipal Arts Society of New York City hosted its 2nd annual panel discussion last night, featuring five authorities on urban sustainability, entitled Re-Imagining New York: Designing Urban Farms to Feed Our City. Over 300 attendees prodded and applauded the panelists, who covered issues from politics to biology over the brief one and a half hour forum (and a reception afterward.) Here's a rundown, in reverse-alphabetical, of who last night's panelists are and what they said.

UPDATE: Listen to the entire panel discussion here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Love from Lancaster

Tracy Sutton, an editor at The Lancaster Daily News, wrote a piece about Vertical Farming on Friday. Thoughtful and informative, the article addresses concerns raised by Cornell Controlled Environment Agriculture research director, Dr. Louis Albright and quells each of them with excerpts from her phone conversation with Dr. Dickson Despommier.

One issue that Dr. Albright does not have with Vertical Farms is the matter of taste, and for good reason. Ms. Sutton explains:
The space age of hydroponic technology is all very fine and good, but what about the taste of hydroponic vegetables? Isn’t dirt primal? Doesn’t it give our food some essential flavor that water-soluble nutrient solution can’t?

No, says Despommier and gives a recitation of the chemical compounds that go into plant physiology. “What makes a plant taste good? Flavanoids. Too much water dilutes flavanoids, too little concentrates the sugars. With vertical farming you can control these variables.”

Control everything or control nothing? If you want the best tasting produce you've ever eaten, the choice is Vertical Farms.

Thanks, Tracy, for spreading the word.