Vertical farming is a concept that argues that it is economically and environmentally viable to cultivate plant or animal life within skyscrapers, or on vertically inclined surfaces.
The idea of a vertical farm has existed at least since the early 1950s and built precedents are well documented by John Hix in his canonical text “The Glass House.”
There are three classifications of vertical farming:
Ken Yeang proposes that instead of hermetically sealed mass produced agriculture that plant life should be cultivated within open air, mixed-use skyscrapers for climate control and consumption.
This version of vertical farming is based upon personal or community use rather than the wholesale production and distribution plant and animal life that aspires to feed an entire city. It thus requires less of an initial investment than Despommier’s “The Vertical Farm”. However, neither Despommier nor Yeang are the conceptual “originators”, nor is Yeang the inventor of vertical farming in skyscrapers.
American ecologist Dr. Dickson Despommier argues that vertical farming is legitimate due to environmental reasons. He claims that the cultivation of plant and animal life within skyscrapers will produce less embedded energy and toxicity than plant and animal life produced on natural landscapes.
He moreover claims that natural landscapes are too toxic for natural, agricultural production, despite the ecological and environmental costs of extracting materials to build skyscrapers for the simple purpose of agricultural production.
The phrase “vertical farming” was coined by Gilbert Ellis Bailey in 1915. In his book “Vertical Farming”, Bailey defined the earliest meanings and methods of vertical farming:
“Vertical Farming”, to coin a name, is the keynote of a new agriculture that has come to stay, for inexpensive explosives enable the farmer to farm deeper, to go down to increase area, and to secure larger crops. Instead of spreading out over more land he concentrates on less land and becomes an intensive rather than an extensive agriculturist, and soon learns that it is more profitable to double the depth of his fertile land than to double the area of his holdings, and he learns that his best aid and servant in this work is a good explosive. Peace congresses demand that swords be turned into pruning hooks. The farmer is busy turning explosives from war to agriculture, from death dealing to life giving work.
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