farmscrapers look fucking cool

The “New York Times” has a piece today about the growing interest in vertical, urban farming. I guess it’s good that people are thinking about growing the food closer to where the people are, and there are some aspects I like about the idea, like the fact that you can, at least in theory, grow all year, and perfectly control the environment, but it’s hard to imagine how, given the cost of real estate in urban areas, and the energy and resources needed to construct and run such facilities, they could possibly make any sense economically. Still, the artists conceptions that I’ve seen look pretty fucking cool… Anyway, here’s a clip from the article:

…”If I were to set myself as a certifier of vertical farms, I would begin with security,” he said. “How do you keep insects and bacteria from invading your crops?” He says growing food in climate-controlled skyscrapers would also protect against hail and other weather-related hazards, ensuring a higher quality food supply for a city, without pesticides or chemical fertilizers…

Pretty cool that you wouldn’t, if done correctly, need chemicals and pesticides. Still, I’ve got to think that it would be a lot more cost-effective to just build protective enclosures over existing farmland, if your primary motivator was creating a controlled environment. And I can’t imagine, even with year-long growing seasons, you could produce even a small fraction of what the people in a city consume. But, like I said, look how fucking cool the building could be…

As I suppose we may have cause to grow food indoors at some point in our future, either or due to environmental reasons here on Earth, or because we’ve colonized space, it’s probably worth doing, at least once, so we can work the bugs out… I have my doubts, for instance, that we could get bees to do what they need to do indoors, or, for that matter, get mules to pull plows when they realize they’re suspended 1,000 feet over a bustling urban center. (And, yeah, my vision is that we go totally old-school inside the high tech structure. I see lots of mules, men with Abe Lincoln beards, and women in modest sun bonnets… I have seen the future and it’s urban Amish.)

More on vertical farming can be found here.

[This post was brought to you by the beautiful little whistle blower in Liechtenstein who went public with the names of hundreds of super-rich Americans hiding their money from the U.S. Government… Let’s hope that Carl Levin sees to it that they’re prosecuted aggressively.]

This entry was posted in Architecture. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

21 Comments

  1. John on Forest
    Posted July 15, 2008 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    I caught a little bit about this concept on either Discovery or History Channel a week or two ago; but, not enough to get an answer to this question:

    How do you get enough sunlight to the crops. Same question applies to indoor food production, Mark. If we supply artificial light to grow the plants we suddenly become anti-green, burning a lot of fossil fuels to power the light bulbs.

    Corn or switchgrass conversion to ethanol, is after all, a biological solar energy collection device. Indoor farming would defeat the solar collection aspect.

  2. mark
    Posted July 16, 2008 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Some of the designs that I’ve seen kind of funnel in sunlight from the top, kind of routing it through somehow. The design here, I’m guessing by the looks of it, has the levels tilted, and cut so as to allow maximum sunlight. Still, though, you’re right. They couldn’t hope to achieve what crops would get outside in a field.

  3. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 16, 2008 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I think we should just plant some magic beans. We can climb up the stalks and live in castles in the clouds. Our urban chickens will lay golden eggs.

  4. Posted July 16, 2008 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    We know from other indoor agriculture that if you grow high value enough crops, you can afford the energy costs. Some of those high value crops are illegal (details, details).

    If you put a data center in the building which generates a bunch of waste heat, you could use cogeneration of some kind and dump that waste heat into crop growth.

    “server farm”

  5. Curt Waugh
    Posted July 16, 2008 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Fiber optics, baby:

    http://pesn.com/2005/07/27/9600139_Fiber_Optics_Bring_Sun_Indoors/

  6. mike_1630
    Posted July 16, 2008 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    This is cool :) I was thinking about what John said, and I’ve seen a company designing windows that act as sun-panels, seems a design like the one above, that is very open, could also have enough window area to power UV lights with zero energy off the grid.

    Marks’ right about it maybe not being cost-effective, but a building like this could serve as a great educational tool while also producing food to sell. I can see a city helping to fund a project like this for educational purposes :) it would teach people about farming + green energy + hmm, other cool stuff :P

  7. Brackache
    Posted July 16, 2008 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Why not just grow crops on the tops of stuff? The possibilities are endless… buildings, cars, hats, aircraft carriers…

  8. publius
    Posted July 16, 2008 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    This is the stupidist idea I have ever seen. It doesn’t seem very “sustainable” or organic.

  9. Brackache
    Posted July 16, 2008 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    Publius’ persuasive essay writing skills put his namesakes’ to shame. I’m sold — Federalism and no farmscrapers it is!

  10. Robert
    Posted July 17, 2008 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Brackache, Publius just said it was the stupidist idea he’d ever seen. He didn’t say he was against it.

  11. Meta
    Posted July 17, 2008 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Carl Levin started hearings today on this matter.

    I just received this note from him.

    This morning I convened a hearing to look at two foreign banks that relied on secrecy and deception to hide the misconduct of their clients and actions they themselves have been taking that facilitate U.S. tax evasion.

    One of those is a private bank owned by the royal family of Liechtenstein, a tiny alpine nation whose 35,000 citizens would fill one-third of the University of Michigan football stadium. The nation has no airport, but supports 15 banks that together boast of holding more than $200 billion in assets.

    Each year the United States Treasury loses an estimated $100 billion in tax revenues from offshore tax abuses due to assets hidden in places like Liechtenstein. But there are a number of ways we can fight back to end tax haven abuses.

    Tax evasion eats at the fabric of society, not only by starving health care, education, and other needed government services of resources, but also by undermining trust – making honest folks feel like they are being abused when they pay their fair share.

    We are determined to tear down the walls of secrecy tax havens rely on in favor of transparency, cooperation, and tax compliance.

    His statement can be found here:

    http://www.carllevin.com/news/2008/07/17/opening-statement-of-senator-carl-levin-us-senate-permanent-subcommittee-on-investigations-hearing-tax-haven-banks-and-us-tax-compliance/

  12. Posted July 17, 2008 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    I wonder where they put the chickens?

    – Steve

  13. Brackache
    Posted July 17, 2008 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Don’t forget “to pay for expensive foreign military interventions,” Carl!

  14. Robert
    Posted July 19, 2008 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    So you can’t even be supportive of Senator Levin’s hearings on this?

  15. Robert
    Posted July 19, 2008 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Wait a minute! Why are we talking about this under the ‘farmscrapers’ post anyway?

  16. mark
    Posted July 21, 2008 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    I’m afraid that was my fault, Robert. I threw in a mention of the hearings at the end of the post. I know I shouldn’t do that, but I can’t help myself.

  17. Brackache
    Posted July 21, 2008 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Sorry I didn’t respond earlier Robert, I just noticed the challenge.

    I don’t tend to get too upset about successful tax evasion, as I think most Government services should be cut, starting with funding for foreign military interventionism — a pricey ongoing crime requiring much tax revenue. I clap my hands with glee when overbearing Governments have trouble funding their unconstitutional bullshit.

    I don’t practice tax evasion myself, but I do tend to root for the perpetrators, no matter how big of rich or crazy a-holes they may be. Levin strikes me as demagogueing in his quote, and I hate that. Hence the offhand snarky comment.

  18. Robert
    Posted July 23, 2008 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    I’d probably agree with you more Brackache if Levin didn’t have the pretty decent record of trying to rein in waste in military spending.

    I start getting uneasy when the same guys evading taxes are the ones running the government and diverting the taxes that are collected to themselves through rackets…artificially prolonged wars and occupations for example.

    My heart is with all the parasites too, but when it starts looking as though some of them are about to kill the only host we have and retire to some tropical island, I either want in on the scam or I wanna see the scammers smashed.

    I think my heart is mostly with you Brackache, bust sometimes I get this sense that you are ready for us all to jump out of the pan and into the fire. It’s mostly just a feeling. I’m not sure I could justify it.

  19. publius
    Posted July 23, 2008 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Ok. let’s say you want to grow food. And you want to “go green” and not use a lot of resources.

    #1 Traditional method.
    Scatch some dirt. Drop in seed. Wait. Pick food.

    #2 Vertical method.
    Build modern skyscraper. Forget the rest. You already lose.

  20. Brackache
    Posted July 24, 2008 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    Robert, if you think it’s unjust that I want the world to burn for my being too shy to ask girls to the dance in high school, then you will never understand my politics.

    Seriously though, to sum my political motivations:

    on a national scale my motivation is to avoid tyranny and its hazards. These hazards run anywhere from genocide to economic collapse to low self esteem of the common citizen, in my mind. Seriously, about that last one, that’s really what I think. I can expand on that some other time.

    On a local level, I want my community to be self sufficient if some unforseen economic, natural, or man made disaster screws everything up. This means food production, energy production, transportation, and mutual defense.

    On a personal level, I don’t want to be afraid of getting in trouble unless I hurt someone or violate their rights in some way. I don’t want to get in trouble for having chickens and goats on my property if it’s not making anyone sick, for having firearms for my, my family’s, and my community’s defence if I haven’t been murderous or irresponsible with them, or for building on my own property if it isn’t endangering anyone’s lives. It seems a trifle, but there’s a world of difference between exercising a right and paying for permission. The first presumes innocence, the second presumes guilt.

    Finally, I think both the neocons’ and liberals’ political philosophies are unjust, unwise, and untenable in the long run, primarily because they intervene too much in the economy, in other people’s countries, and in our personal lives. They’re unsustainable attempts at unnecessary control, in my mind.

  21. Brackache
    Posted July 24, 2008 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Also Robert, I’ve been thinking about the “out of the frying pan and into the fire” analogy.

    Picture us all standing ankle deep in gradually warming liquid butter, feeling protected from the scary fire by the thin piece of similarly gradually warming metal we’re all standing on, hoping for the best.

    Now picture me saying “fuck this, I know where this is going,” jumping over the side into the fire, sustaining painful burns, scrambling out of the burner and onto the stove top, rinsing myself off under cold water in the sink, and running out the door to heal in safety before the people-eating starts.

    I’d say your vague feelings are right on exactly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Connect

BUY LOCAL... or shop at Amazon through this link Banner Initiative Non Local Blogger 2