The Future of Urban Agriculture

Whether through community gardening or high-tech "vertical farms" interest is growing in urban agriculture.
October 3, 2008, 5am PDT | Michael Dudley
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"More and more urban agriculture projects are springing up throughout the country. When Taja Sevelle moved to Detroit in 2005 and saw the hunger, vacant lots and health problems associated with lack of fresh food, she decided that growing food on unused land was the answer. Her organization, Urban Farming, now has about 600 community gardens, many of them in Detroit, but throughout the United States and the world as well. Its lofty mission is to 'eradicate hunger.'

This may seem daunting, but Executive Director Sevelle, who studied to be a botanist before signing a record contract with Prince, thinks this is a reachable goal. She points to the success of the victory gardens and says her organization fed about a quarter of a million people in Detroit last year.

Urban farming the way Columbia University professor Dickson Despommier envisions it includes grains. Despommier and his graduate students in a medical ecology class came up with a plan they call vertical farming, which would allow farming in high-rises. Growing food locally would undoubtedly save on transportation, says Bruce Bugbee, a professor of crop physiology at Utah State University. But he scoffs at the rice-in-the-sky idea because he believes the energy costs of growing food indoors are far too great."

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Published on Thursday, October 2, 2008 in AlterNet
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