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The rooftop garden is an increasingly common scene in cities across the country, and a trendy one at that. Now, imagine an entire building devoted to gardens. A skyscraper containing no homes or offices - just lights on every ceiling, hydroponic growing operations on every floor. Is this the future of farming? In many cases, it is already a reality.
The concept of the skyscraper farm was pioneered by Dr. Dickson Despommier, a professor of microbiology and ecology at Columbia. Despommier taught a class on his ideas for vertical farming in 1999 and the ideas of the class spread virally to countries all over the world. Currently, modern vertical farms exist in the U.S., South Korea, Japan, and Singapore. A new, 17 story skyscraper, is in the works for Sweden.
But why the need for vertical farms? Because in 2011, over 1 billion people went hungry, and in the next forty years, that number is likely to increase to nearly 3 billion. Despommier hopes to dually aleviate any suffering from hunger, and increase access to healthy, local, affordable food for people living in food deserts (usually in the inner city).
Certainly, this dream is big, and in order to come to fruition it will require massive infrastructure and investment. But Despommier's is one of the more comprehensive solutions to world hunger and the problems in our food system. It has the potential to feed the world in the 21st century.
Vertical Farms Sprout into Reality from Mother Nature Network.