Probably a good thing…

I've been thinking a lot about vertical farming — simply, farms in skyscrapers (the one pictured below is proposed for downtown Toronto). As the price of fuel rises, I would imagine that we'll get closer and closer to these being undeniably viable; even necessary… One article suggested that they'd currently cost about $80 million to build with about $12 million in net profit per year, which would definitely be a worthwhile investment. Benefits include:

  • Year-round weather-immune farming that's far more space-efficient (hundreds of times more efficient) than “horizontal” farming.
  • Organic production, with water re-use and even water cleaning.
  • Potential to be energy independent or even generate energy, to say nothing of the massive savings in fuel both because they're producing food at the site of consumption, and because large farm gear isn't used.

The effect on rural areas if this took off would be profound… For the majority of crops there would be a distinct disadvantage to producing them outside of the city, and rural farms would collapse quite quickly, and along with it, perhaps a great deal of the rural economy in general. On one hand that's good, because a lot of land would go back to nature, repairing much of the damage we've done to the planet, but I can't help but worry that losing the hands-on knowledge of how to do traditional farming could be a bad thing. I suppose I'm a bit of a Luddite, but still, images of a forest planet with cities dotting out of the wilderness is a romantic, sci-fi drenched vision.

…and of course totally figuring out indoor farming is a very important first step in moving to Mars!

Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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