Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Journal #6: Urban Farming

Since urban farming was a popular topic in class yesterday, I decided to look it up online. I had no real previous knowledge of urban farming except for communal gardens, but those are only meant as a space for those who don't have lawns or garden areas (apartments).

So the first hit on google was the wikipedia article, which had limited cited sources and was marked as biased. Still it presented a lot of the basic principles of urban farming that we talked about in class. Urban farming, it reads, is geared to increasing city food supplies, providing much need jobs, making the urban public more environmentally conscious, and reducing land usage (deforestation or habitat destruction for farm use).

The intentions are great and the goals seem simple enough but not obtainable on the level that the article describes. Impacting a whole city's food supply does not seem feasible with the land available within city limits. Families with yards seems like a possibility if they are very dedicated, but I don't see how this could branch out much more without decreasing park space. Just thinking of a place like New York City being able to significantly increase their food supplies based on urban farming seems very far fetched. Probably it's most realistic and beneficial aspect could be the environmental awareness it creates, and employing youth participation could be the biggest its biggest impact on the future.

I read one of the links at the bottom of the page that introduced "Skyfarming", where a farm, using hydroponic techonology, is grown vertically to reduce land usage. The hope is that someday someone generates the funding to create largescale vertical farm (a farm skyscraper). This type of farming can create clean energy, purify wastewater, create consistency in food supplies (eliminating dangerous "rogue" strains), and would be all-organic. Something this seems so futuristic that it can seem unbelievable, but appears that with real funding could achieve the goals of urban farming within the small amounts of land available in a city.


Skizzler said...

Picture this:

We get blimps, way up in the sky, right? And those blimps, they are made of dirt. And then we grow CROPS on the DIRT BLIMPS.

My god, it doesn't use any land at all.

How's that for sky farming?

Deanna said...

who's this skizzler person??

good note on the wikipedia article. it will be interesting to see how rooftops are partitioned in the future - others would argue they should all have solar panels. maybe i'll make this a homework for the urban farming class - estimating whether urban farming could impact pgh food supply....

c said...

I want to bring up the popularity of hydroponics. I've recently written a fiction novel and hydroponics plays a key role. I cannot understand why hydroponic farming is still not considered commercially viable, let alone universally accepted as superior to current farming/gardening methods. The only real drawbacks to hydroponics is that you may need to pay more attention to what you're doing and, depending on the scale of the project, it could be considered cost prohibitive in the short run. With hydroponics YOU get to be in charge of how much and in what time of year things will grow.

This has nothing to do with genetic modification of the plants in any way. The plants live in a solution that provides them with all of they nutrients they need. They have lights overhead to simulate whatever day length is required. The plants can be spaced closer together to generate higher yields. The enclosed structure of a greenhouse and lack of soil greatly decrease the risk of disease, cross pollination and ground water contamination. The products yield better flavor, appearance and longevity than those grown by tradition methods as well. I could go on and on, but I think I've made my point. Hydroponics is a win-win for everyone.