Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Urban Ag: Sans Dirt

The need for food production in urban areas is challenged by one significant barrier: lack of land. In this version of Urban Agriculture, we explore three methods for solving this dilemma by using interiors and exteriors of building in inventive ways.

Kicking off is a local example of rooftop agriculture. The Rocket, a slim addition to upping Lower Burnside's hip quotient, is a new building by local developer/architect Kevin Cavanaugh. Named for the pseudonym for arugula, The Rocket was featured in The Oregonian for an inventive and simple rooftop garden for growing veggies that are used in the restaurant. Marc Boucher-Colbert and Erin Altz of Edible Skylines used kiddie pools, yep... kiddie pools - for the garden beds.

:: image via OregonLive

Part II: Rooftops offer a lot of potential, but taking it to the next step, how about using the entire building. Vertical farming has been covered here with a past post on L+U. Buzz is going about a 30 story building in Las Vegas aimed at producing food.

Quotes from Next Energy News: Cost effective? "Although the project initial cost is high at $200 million, with annual revenue of $25 million from produce and another $15 million from tourists the 30 story vertical farm would be about as profitable as a casino with operating expenses only being about $6 million a year. Viable? It's suggested that "...There would be about 100 different crops grown ranging from strawberries to lettuce even miniature banana trees could be grown from each floors specially controlled environment."

:: image via Skyscraper Page

The last is, admittedly, a bit crazy. Treehugger outlines the idea of Urban fish farming as as an opportunity for urban areas, in this case using "... urban fish pools, each about the size of a children's pool with higher walls and a roof." Brought up as a response to contaminants in local sushi, this form of aquaculture is adaptable to a variety of spaces and is theoretically a safe environment. A previous Treehugger post shows some more info, as well as this video of the concept:

:: video via Treehugger

1 comment:

  1. While trying to convert buildings to serving as cropland is an inventive idea, there is a less capital intensive way to begin integrating agriculture into the built environment, by applying sub-acre SPIN-Farming. SPIN is a non-technical, easy-to-learn, inexpensive-to-implement farming system that makes it possible to earn significant income from land bases under an acre in size. Minimal infrastructure, reliance on hand labor to accomplish most farming tasks, utilization of existing water sources to meet irrigation needs, and situating close to markets all keep investment and overhead costs low. SPIN therefore removes the 2 big barriers to entry for new farmers –they don’t need a lot of land or money, and it makes farming compatible with densely populated areas. There is now a growing corps of commercial backyard, front lawn and small lot farmers throughout the U.S. and Canada, and you can see some of them in action at www.spinfarming.com


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