In Despommier’s vision, vertical farming is a completely sustainable process where water is recycled and filtered, crops are organically raised, and no GMOs ever set foot within the door. Plant failure and diseases will be minimized by making the farms into “P2″-like facilities (which is a level of biosafety), in order to minimize infectious diseases and more unwanted pathogens. In addition, because vertical farms can be located anywhere, their proximity to urban centers could drastically reduce food miles and provide green collar jobs in agriculture.
Concerns about vertical farming include the transfer of farming into a factory, which would further mechanize and automate our food production. But Despommier believes that farming has been a blight on the natural landscape for 12,000 years, and that by producing food in vertical farms, “it will allow us for the first time to feed everyone on earth and still return land to its original ecological function.” For Despommier, the traditional agricultural system is a complete failure all over the world, as the system has not been able to efficiently produce enough food for the global population and because it operates at such a large cost to our environment. He believes that vertical farming will allow us to balance our food system with the rest of nature.
Lead Images © Marlene Bloom and Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press