This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
Dickson Despommier is a public health
professor at Columbia University in New York City. His area is environmental
One day nine years ago, he and his
students developed an idea. They imagined people in cities growing crops inside
a tall building. Tomatoes could grow on one floor of the skyscraper, potatoes
on the next, small animals and fish on the floor above. You get the idea.
This vertical farm, or "farmscraper," could have
space for restaurants and other places that serve food, like schools or
hospitals. They could serve foods that are truly locally grown. The building could
even produce its own energy. It could have wind turbines on top.
But why would anyone want to build a
farm indoors in a city? Dickson Despommier believes it will become necessary. The
world needs to find places to produce enough food to feed the growing
population. Space, he says, is an
professor also points to problems of traditional farms. They use a lot of freshwater.
Their fertilizer and animal waste can pollute water resources. And their
growing seasons can be limited.
inside the vertical farm, crops could grow all year. And there would be no wind
to blow away soil. Farmers would not have to worry about too much or too little
rain, or about hot summers, freezing winters or insects. And without insects
there would be no need for chemicals to kill them.
Farm machines that use fossil fuels, like
plows and tractors, would not be needed either. And water could be recycled for
drinking. "The vertical farm re-uses everything, so there is no waste,"
says Professor Despommier.
Even buildings could be saved. Old buildings could become
new farms and provide jobs.
professor has been actively proposing the idea to cities as far away as Dubai
and Canada. But so far it exists only in plans and drawings, and a model at the
Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
say building a farmscraper would cost too much, especially considering the price
of land in many cities. Dickson Despommier estimates the cost at about twenty
to thirty million dollars.
But he says the building would not have to be very
tall. And his graduate students have found many empty lots and unused buildings
in New York City that could provide space.
And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report,
written by Jerilyn Watson. For a link to the Vertical Farm Project, go to
voaspecialenglish.com. I’m Bob Doughty.