Vertical Farming – The Answer of the Future? | Gourmand and Gourmet

Vertical Farming – The Answer of the Future?

  • Food & Booze

City skyscraper or giant vege patch? Land is a soon to be luxury that we just can’t afford – and while there are still many mouths to feed, could vertical farming offer a much needed solution to feeding our cities or is it just a utopian fantasy?

By the year 2050, the globe’s population is estimated to soar by three billion people, with almost 80% residing in urban areas. And with this, Australians will suffer from the rising cost of living, and putting food on the table is a daily struggle for many families as overgrazing, soil erosion, deforestation, pollution, urban development and foreign investment are eating up our cherished farming lands. It has been said the solution to this global crisis is the return of the humble veggie patch – but not as you know it. Entire skyscrapers around the world are being transformed into vertical farms, which environmental scientists believe could function as urban food epicentres of the future. Remember that easy-bake oven you used a lightbold to bake cakes in as a wee one? Well times that by a million and you have yourself a vertical farm. Typically placed in multi-storied buildings and warehouses, vertical farms use fluorescent lights to grow crops, while utilising manmade heat and air to control the atmospheric temperature. There’s no soil, no sunlight and no seasons. The concept of vertical farming is nothing new. Hothouse production of tomatoes, a variety of herbs, and other produce has been in vogue for some time. What is new is the urgent need to amplify this technology to accommodate another three billion people. If successfully implemented, vertical farms offer the promise of urban renewal, year-round sustainable crop production, and the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for traditional horizontal farming. These multi-level farms are sprouting up in our own backyard, slashing the distance produce must travel from farm to fork. On a smaller scale, Downtown Honey Co. and Bee One Third are prime examples of combining buildings and biodiversity through urban rooftop beekeeping. These organisations install beehives on inner-city Brisbane rooftops to harvest honey in an eco-friendly and sustainable fashion. They are right there under your nose, well above your favourite café, on the Rooftop of The Gunshop Café. But don’t let us steal all the buzz, drop by and have a chat to the manager Sean to discover how his hives came to bee. Movements such as these aim to educate people about the journey the produce takes from the paddock to the plate. By bringing food and honeybees back into city centres, surrounding neighbourhoods are being supplied with local produce. This trend of urban beekeeping is a positive step towards sustainable coexistence with flora and fauna, and an ever-bigger step towards feeding our cities. Chanelle Rodger