The term Vertical Urban Farming was born about ten years ago inside of the Columbia University.
How will it be possible to feed the growing world population?
Bringing agriculture within the city
That happened in Manhattan, NY. The young students therefore considered the peculiar New York skyline as a frame of their projects.
So the first ideas were born, then transformed into renderings that you can find scattered around the web. Magnificent skyscraper filled with productive and sustainable indoor cultivations, together with crops placed outside them capable of absorbing carbon dioxide, making the air more breathable.
Absolutely not, since then around the world hundreds of projects have been born, maybe not as fascinating as those designed by Dickson Despommier‘s students, but just as useful for achieving the goal:
Fresh and nutritious food for everyone
Bringing agriculture and, in general, food production in or near residential areas remains a common goal across the globe. The arable land does not appear, in fact, sufficient to feed the growing world population and the transport of products has become increasingly polluting, expensive and detrimental to the freshness of the products.
With the innovative cultivation techniques it is possible to make productive practically every space.
When do we start?
There are already several examples of Urban Farming around the world, such as Sky Vegetables and Aerofarms in the United States. Even in Europe there is a push that is leading to the development of really interesting projects, such as Growing Underground in London or InFarm in Germany among many.
Even in Italy the movement is growing
In recent years, in fact, small production companies are emerging and growing, even if they are much smaller in number and size than in other countries.
In Italy there would be ideal conditions for the expansion of this phenomenon: agronomic knowledge, abundance of disused buildings, excellent distribution network and technological innovations.
I know that cultivating food in or near cities may not seem necessary. This is because we just need to go to the fruit and vegetable market or our trusted supermarket to access a vast range of products of good or excellent quality.
But the reality is another. In 2017 the Italian trade balance reckoned a weight of imports about 4 times higher than that of exports. This means that a country like ours, with plenty of land and farmers, still needs to buy a large amount of food from abroad (to be precise a volume of imports amounting to 14 billion euro, ISTAT sources).
What would be the benefits of Urban Farming?
In addition to the aforementioned advantages linked to the production of a cleaner and fresher food thanks to the absence of pesticides and shortening of the harvesting-table period, we must add the reduction of logistics costs and emissions.
This innovative and technological agriculture would then bring young people closer to agriculture, with all the advantages that this would entail, creating new low and high skilled jobs. Logistics and distribution could be entrusted to cooperatives, giving them one more purpose to stay active within our communities.
Not only that, the Indoor Urban Farming would also ensure a more agile traceability of the product, meeting the need for food security that we all seek, as emerged during the event a few weeks ago by Ernst & Young when we talked about blockchain.
The whole world is going in this direction.
We must be ready