Over the next 40 years the UN predicts a global population boom, leading to agricultural land shortages. Great Stuff Hydroponics thinks we can overcome this problem and help to reduce the environmental impact of our cities by building vertical hydroponic agricultural buildings in urban centers.
Supplying food in the West is not an issue, where agricultural land is available and complex distribution systems are already set up. However, the UN predicts that by the year 2050, there will be an additional 3 billion people on this planet, approximately 80% of whom will live in urban centers. This poses a problem, particularly in developed societies where farmers are a dying breed and food often has to transported over vast distances before it ends up on peoples' dinner tables.
Currently, some cities are greener than others; Singapore, Hanoi and Havana have all been cited as food producing cities. Whilst they are not yet self sufficient, other cities still have very far to go. New York, for example, has to import almost every morsel of food which is consumed there, and trucking all that food into the city every day takes its toll on the environment and is an incredibly inefficient use of resources in a sophisticated society.
The answer, according to environmentalists, scientists and hydroponics enthusiasts is to stop all these wasteful practices by building hydroponic farms, vertically, in the heart of our cities. This would let the land around our cities return to an unspoilt ecosystem of forests or grasslands, helping the fight against global warming and climate change. After all, we have developed into an urban species with all of the methods to produce reliable crops every year hydroponically at our fingertips. We do not need to rely on taking up large tracts of land with agriculture, polluting our atmosphere with delivery truck exhaust fumes, and leaving our crops to the mercy of the elements the way our ancestors did. Farming to excess is a contributing factor to desertification, reduced soil quality and it is unnecessarily damaging to indigenous flora and fauna.
There is already considerable popular support for town planners and city councils which take environmentally friendly decisions, dedicating themselves to keeping our countryside green and focusing on making our cities cleaner and more pleasant places to inhabit instead.
Dr. Dickson Despommier, a professor of microbiology at Columbia University, originally came up with the idea of the Vertical Farm Project, as a solution to the future pressure on land and resources and as a way of reducing the carbon footprint of our cities. Since the beginning of the project, a number of environmentally friendly 'vertical farms' have been designed for New York, Toronto and Paris.
Toronto scientist, Gordon Graff designed a concept building known as the SkyFarm which would sit in the center of the city's theater district. His 58 floor tower design could provide sufficient food at the center of the city for an estimated 35,000 people, every day. It would combine different crops, vegetables and fruits, all being grown hydroponically, using water in place of soil. During hydroponic growth, plants are fed nutrients dissolved in water in a strictly controlled environment.
The benefits to the environment of producing food in vertical greenhouse-like farms in the center of town would be multiple. Not only are distribution vehicle emissions cut by growing food in the place where it will be eaten, but there is also no need for plowing, no digging, and no seasonal droughts. Crops are protected from the elements and run off or 'dirty water' is eliminated as water can be recycled within the hydroponic system of the building.
Also, because plants grow hydroponically are in a controlled environment, with no soil, there are also no soil borne diseases or pests to worry about; The city's food could be produced without the need for chemical pesticides or fertilizers.
Hydroponic growth requires only one twenty of the water used to irrigate a farm growing the same number of plants, yet yields are higher. Because there is a continuous flow of nutrients to the plant, the plant can concentrate its energy on producing fruit rather than roots. Hydroponic lights and a CO2 rich atmosphere within the building could also increase food production by stimulating photosynthesis and lengthening the daylight hours available to the plants.
Gordon's SkyFarm idea would be a totally self sustainable building, powered by solar panels. He also says that non edible parts of plants could be composed, producing methane; This biofuel is a source of renewable energy which could have contributed to the local power grid. The SkyFarm could even develop into a scientific research facility or an eco-tourism attraction, creating jobs and drawing attention to the city as a whole.
The spirit and aims of the Vertical Farm Project have been enthusiastically received all over the world. An environmentally friendly Science Barge is run by New York Sun Works to prove the point to city inhabants that food can be successfully grown hydroponically within the city. School groups and apartment communities have been particularly taken with the project, which illustrates how using the city's' 14,000 acres of sunny rooftop space to grow plants hydroponically, could feed 20 million people across the city of New York and the surrounding area.
The most exciting aspect of these concept buildings is that they are feasible with the technology already available to us. Not only that, but city inmates who are tired of paying a premium to buy food which has been brought into the city from afar need not even have a rooftop or garden. Great Stuff Hydroponics can supply beginners hydroponic kits along with all of the materials and equipment required by established growers, for use within peoples' homes. Given the correct lighting and nutrients, any variety of plant can be grown in water, hydroponically, absolutely anywhere, regardless of the season or climate.
For more information about the vertical farm project, visit http://www.verticalfarm.com To start growing your own hydroponic fruits and vegetables at home, purchase hydroponic kits or equipment and benefit from special offers online, see Great Stuff Hydroponics' website, Http://www.hydroponics-hydroponics.com