Getting fruits and vegetables onto the kitchen table is a stressful affair. Farmers constantly deal with pests, weather changes, pesticides, droughts, increased costs of running equipment and crop diseases. For example, the moth, Helicoverpa armigera, causes crop damage in excess of 5 billion dollars worldwide per year, while the 2008 floods in the U.S Midwest have already soaked through thousands of acres of farmland.
Losing a crop is extremely frustrating; especially to farmers who excitedly bought land and then purchased the popular $110,000 180-PTO horsepower diesel tractor to maintain the now demolished harvest. Architects and agriculturalists believe that many of these issues can be solved with indoor agriculture. Not only that, but by incorporating farming into high rise buildings protected from outside variables, the volume of produce harvested increases dramatically. In fact, one indoor acre may yield up to 6 times as much of a crop as a traditional outdoor farm.
The Living Tower, a theoretical 30 floor high rise farming community designed by Paris based SOA architects, would house;
130 apartments on the first 15 floors, 9000 square meters of office space on the remaining 15 floors, a 7000 square meter shopping center, a library and even a nursery in addition to the gardens distributed throughout the building. Link to the Press Release for more information.
Living Tower architects have focused on specific crop productions and believe the following estimates will represent respective crop yields:
63000 kg of tomatoes per year
37 333 feet of salads per year
9 324 kg of strawberries per year
The building design keeps efficiency and alternative power in mind as well: two large windmills rotating on the roof will generate 200-600 KWH of electricity per annum and will assist in pumping recovered rainwater throughout the complex. Photovoltaic panels will cover the outer walls while inside the tower, ventilation shafts draw in underground air keeping temperatures comfortable throughout the year.
VerticalFarm.com, a website devoted to vertical farming (VF) architecture, provides a list of benefits associated with the technology:
• 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 of Evapo-transpiration
• VF adds energy back to the grid via methane generation from composting non-edible parts 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
• VF may prove to be useful for integrating into refugee camps
• VF offers the promise of measurable economic improvement for tropical and subtropical
• VF could reduce the incidence of armed conflict over natural resources, such as water and land for agriculture
There are few things more satisfying than picking a ripened tomato from your own tree and enjoying the fruit knowing that you don’t have to worry about pesticides, importing problems or other issues involved with the agriculture business. With vertical farming on the rise, it won’t be unheard of to enjoy homegrown strawberries while snow piles up on the busy city streets below.