Monday, October 8, 2007

Farms go Vertical



According to an article at MSNBC, architects are planning for vertical tower farms in cities (or elsewhere). Seems a little too technological for my taste, but it is arguable that many of our vegetable foods already do come from horizontal greenhouses. Check out this site: verticalfarm.com.

My wife and I had a vegetable garden in a
community plot in Madison, Maine in the summer of 2006. Its a short season up there.
I bought Early Girl and some Roma-type plums tomatoes and I was lucky to harvest any before I had to leave at the end of August. I bought large-sized starts, maybe 18 inches tall, to get me going. So what do I know when I read that a company, Backyard Farms, Inc. (previously known as U.S. Functional Foods, LLC), decided that this is a great place to open a huge greenhouse complex to grow tomatoes, year round! Well, central Maine does have some economic woes and so, no doubt, the government there gave the company some tax incentives and excellent electricity rates. To grow fruit of this sort in a greenhouse without the aid of the sun (essentially 1/2 the year) requires a lot of artificial light. It requires pumps and fans and irrigation. It requires heat. A lot of energy goes into this type of production.

Despite all this, central Maine is now providing much of New England with hothouse tomatoes year round. Could it really be cost effective? How do those tomatoes taste? I read one report that Whole Foods is carrying them. The press has been good, though mostly scraped from the Associated Press report. Check out these links: Kennebec Journal, The Maine Democrat, Global Good News.

Would you like to see 18 story greenhouses in New York City?

Do check out the book Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan. I really enjoyed this book and it is worth your time. I am thinking twice about all those potatoes I have ever eaten after reading Pollan's description of an ordinary Idaho farmer's agricultural practices in the field. This is simply a great read on the interrelationship of humans and plants.

It happens to be raining tonight and it is about time. Its been a bit droughty the last six weeks or so. The plants are doing fine, but the trees have given in to some leaf drop. Tonight we did see some lightning. You know that it is said to be good for the plants. Oh they look so healthy after a good thunderstorm. I'll continue to think it even though I always suspected it wasn't true. Its just that when you get some lightning, you often get some good, deep-soaking rain. However, and this is just some foolish thinking, I do think that plants know when it is going to rain and prepare for it. So that beside the deep-soaking rain, they were also prepared for it, not taxed by it like they may be from the sprinkler or hose.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to see a vertical farm in NYC. I look around and all I see are giant glass buildings. But what if they could harness all that glitter and sleekness and feed a multitude. Vertical office farms! Now, that's what I call "green" architecture.

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