As our cities grow by expanding outward, they push farms further and further away from the people who consume it products. Fresh food becomes a relative term as the physical distance between producers and consumers increases. The increasing physical separation between these worlds has led to a growing cultural divide. This has led many urban dwellers to actively seek out a way to reconnect to the food they eat by frequenting farmer’s markets. Some have gone so far as vacationing on working farms. Meanwhile. farming is frequently done by large scale industrial operations which treats food as just another product, equal to shoes or paper clips. But food is not just another consumable. Its a source of life and our relationship to it is often deeply emotional and important.
Demolishing buildings to build farms in the middle of Manhattan or Madrid is not a viable solution for many reasons. It may seem like an oxymoron, but dense urbanism is the most sustainable strategy for lowering our energy consumption. So how do we balance our conflicting needs and desires?
Architects and urban designers have taken up the challenge of integrating agriculture and urbanism, by looking upward. Literally, but putting farms up in the sky. The idea is called ‘Vertical Farming’. What was once considered science fiction (the idea has been around for decades) is now seen as a pragmatic solution. Technology has bridged the divide by offering new ways to grow food in less space and by harnessing renewable sources of energy. Designers like Blake Kurasek and Weber & Thomson are featured at ‘The Vertical Farm Project‘, which has compiled their research at a single web site. What seems like sheer fantasy may, by necessity, soon become a reality.