Cities may sprout vertical farms
Proposed high-rise greenhouses could help solve a looming food crisis, professor says.
Courtesy of The Vertical Farm Project
That’s why the idea of “vertical farms” seems ripe for humor. When its biggest advocate appeared on the faux news show “The Colbert Report” earlier this year, comedian Stephen Colbert prefaced the interview by guessing it would have something to do with corn that grows sideways or perhaps “Chia blimps” that float overhead.
Such teasing hasn’t deterred Dickson Despommier, the Columbia University professor of public health. He sees putting crops into skyscrapers as a better way to feed a hungry world. Professor Despommier’s website, verticalfarm.com, features architectural concepts of high-rise buildings that could grow fresh produce in urban areas while at the same time being much more environmentally sustainable than conventional agriculture. [Editor's note: The original story misspelled Dr. Despommier's first name.]
The trouble is, he concedes, none of the beautiful drawings would work exactly as shown. “They all look pretty,” he says. “[A]t least it means they’re thinking in the right direction.”
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