11 January 2010

The Growing Power Revolution

As readers of this blog know, a revolution in food production is taking place led by Will Allen of Growing Power. I just met Brother Will this past weekend at his place in Milwaukee called Growing Power. Going to Growing Power was a life changing experience for me and I intend on going back and learning all I can about sustainable low-cost urban farming from Will Allen and his dedicated staff of 39. You should plan to go there as well. Nobody can really tell you what it is like. You have to go and experience it for yourself. Chech out their website: www.growingpower.org

There is plenty of information to study, but then plan on going to Growing Power yourself in person like your life depends on it, because it does.
With crazy weather conditions, global warming or cooling, wars, sky-rocketing fuel costs, global pandemics - you name it- these are all threats to the production of food. How are we going to live if we don't have access to good nutritious foods? Can we really afford to depend upon others for our food? What if there is a breakdown in the food chain? Can we survive?

What Will Allen and Growing Power is showing us is how to survive, no matter what. I don't know about you, but I intend to survive, so in order to do that, I have to acquire a special kind of knowledge. It is the knowledge of how to grow your own food in a sustainable affordable way. All of us need to know how to plant our own Garden of Eden. Agriculture is the means of survival on this planet.

So let's get involved and learn all we can while we have the chance. We can all have a back yard garden, or pots on the balcony, or on the roof of our building, or on a vacant lot. If we learn from Growing Power how to construct a 'hoop house' then we have the possibility of year round food production since we need food all year round don't we? No matter what, we've got to keep eating in order to keep living. Let's learn how to do it for ourselves. That is true freedom and independence.

Below is another perspective about the same concept - large scale indoor farming that goes vertical in the middle of urban areas.

If we master the small scale version of this concept,

then we can move on to the really large scale.

This is the adventure of life!

What else is worth doing?

Enjoy. Learn. Think. Plan. Act. Share.

Vertical Farming - What Is It?

The Problem
By the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth's population will reside in urban centers. Applying the most conservative estimates to current demographic trends, the human population will increase by about 3 billion people during the interim. An estimated 109 hectares of new land (about 20% more land than is represented by the country of Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food to feed them, if traditional farming practices continue as they are practiced today. At present, throughout the world, over 80% of the land that is suitable for raising crops is in use (sources: FAO and NASA). Historically, some 15% of that has been laid waste by poor management practices. What can be done to avoid this impending disaster?

A Potential Solution: Farm Vertically
The concept of indoor farming is not new, since hothouse production of tomatoes, a wide variety of herbs, and other produce has been in vogue for some time. What is new is the urgent need to scale up this technology to accommodate another 3 billion people. An entirely new approach to indoor farming must be invented, employing cutting edge technologies. The Vertical Farm must be efficient (cheap to construct and safe to operate). Vertical farms, many stories high, will be situated in the heart of the world's urban centers. If successfully implemented, they offer the promise of urban renewal, sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply (year-round crop production), and the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming.
It took humans 10,000 years to learn how to grow most of the crops we now take for granted. Along the way, we despoiled most of the land we worked, often turning verdant, natural ecozones into semi-arid deserts. Within that same time frame, we evolved into an urban species, in which 60% of the human population now lives vertically in cities. This means that, for the majority, we humans are protected against the elements, yet we subject our food-bearing plants to the rigors of the great outdoors and can do no more than hope for a good weather year. However, more often than not now, due to a rapidly changing climate regime, that is not what follows. Massive floods, protracted droughts, class 4-5 hurricanes, and severe monsoons take their toll each year, destroying millions of tons of valuable crops. Don't our harvestable plants deserve the same level of comfort and protection that we now enjoy? The time is at hand for us to learn how to safely grow our food inside environmentally controlled multistory buildings within urban centers. If we do not, then in just another 50 years, the next 3 billion people will surely go hungry, and the world will become a much more unpleasant place in which to live.

Advantages of Vertical Farming
Year-round crop production; 1 indoor acre is equivalent to 4-6 outdoor acres or more, depending upon the crop (e.g., strawberries: 1 indoor acre = 30 outdoor acres)
No weather-related crop failures due to droughts, floods, pests
All VF food is grown organically: no herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers
VF virtually eliminates agricultural runoff by recycling black water
VF returns farmland to nature, restoring ecosystem functions and services
VF greatly reduces the incidence of many infectious diseases that are acquired at the agricultural interface
VF converts black and gray water into potable water by collecting the water ofevapotranspiration
VF adds energy back to the grid via methane generation from composting non-edibleparts of plants and animals
VF dramatically reduces fossil fuel use (no tractors, plows, shipping.)
VF converts abandoned urban properties into food production centers
VF creates sustainable environments for urban centers
VF creates new employment opportunities
We cannot go to the moon, Mars, or beyond without first learning to farm indoors onearth
VF may prove to be useful for integrating into refugee camps
VF offers the promise of measurable economic improvement for tropical and subtropicalLDCs. If this should prove to be the case, then VF may be a catalyst in helping to reduce or even reverse the population growth of LDCs as they adopt urban agriculture as a strategy for sustainable food production.
VF could reduce the incidence of armed conflict over natural resources, such as waterand land for agriculture
Copyright © 2009 The Vertical Farm Project. All Rights Reserved.


Anonymous said...

Here's a vertical farming system that works today in UK and will be showing up in a city center near you soon: http://bit.ly/6CXsIp

Valcent's VertiCrop was named one of Time Magazine's Top 50 Innovations in 2009 and they now have JFK Jr. on their advisory board. Keep an eye on http://www.valcent.net

Alim said...

Thanks for the info on Valcent. I'll be watching closely to see how it goes with them and the technology they are using.

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