Vertical Farms - A Little Shop of Horrible Impracticality
Did we run out of land?
Talk about the intellect running amuck!
I recently read this post on vertical farming.http://www.good.is/post/poptech-08-vertical-farms/
Big props for the big ideas but honestly - what a far off impractical vision! Who has the money to invest hundreds of millions into vertical farms when there are millions upon millions of acres of land to use - IN CITIES and IN METRO AREAS. Did we all of a sudden run out of land?
The solution for local food is much more simple than this. The Farm Contractor
Uses existing land that is either
1. Doing nothing for the land owner OR
2. Costing the land owner to maintain
Furthermore, the Farm Contractor Model
1. Brings food right into the metro
2. Saves landowners on landscape maintenance
3. Develops and maintains micro ecosystems and micro products.
Our food is supposed to be connected to the soil. These types of vertical farming visions certainly are worth enjoying and playing with - but our attention should be on what is totally practical and useable right now. Can you afford a grow tower of this magnitude? You know who can though....
Like growing food in a vertical building, the vertical idea is disconnected from the earth - not in a spiritual way, not in a theoretical way, but in a literal way. It is an idea that is not grounded. It is a 'wow' factor and detracts from the simple solution that farming the soil is not the problem - it is the industrial model of farming the soil that is the problem. Naturally, if someone wants to build a 200 million dollar food tower - more power to them. For sure, the farm contractors below this building will be reaping far greater rewards and no one will be able to compete with them.
1. Get paid for their farm
2. Pay no utilities
3. Pay no property taxes
4. Are surrounded by their clients
Land Owners working with a Farm Contractor
1. Make ONE Landscape investment
2. That makes and saves them money every year
Every Person Living in the Area where the Farm Contractor Is
1. Gets the best local food for the least amount of money
2. Gets speciality local products
3. Is surrounded by one stunning FarmGarden after another
Vertical Grow Tower Owners
1. Pay millions and millions to build their tower
2. Pay millions and millions to power it
3. Pay property taxes
4. Pay utilities (assuming not fully self-sufficient)
IMAGINE what they have to charge YOU for a head of lettuce in order to pay their bills!!!! That is not sustainable.
Affordable systems to retro fit existing buildings to grow food is another topic all together and we will get into that in our show. You can grow salad greens in the middle of winter, in your low light window, with no heat and no additional light - we will show you how.
Conservatively - in Michigan with simple org ag practices you can get, right now, 5$ per sqft of production.
Numbers on the net vary from 2$ per sqft to 10. Our experience shows us 5$ is a safe sqft number to play with.
Numbers are only numbers. Remember this. The better the farmer, the bigger the sqft value. MANY factors go into a sqft value. If you are a home owner - consider the following information carefully -
1,000 sqft of high production farm garden = $5,000 in produce
Cost of 1,000sqft installed = 1,000 - 2,000.00 (could be done for $200 too)
Year One Return when planted in March = 3-4k in the BLACK
Majority of Labor Input = Initial installation, spring and fall
Smart Farmers know - summer is a breeze as far as a farm.
You will see more on this soon.
As our editing ability increases (you can help that by putting a tip in the tip jar on our website www.indiedibles.com) you will see more and more details on the different ways the Farm Contractor can work for-
1. Home Owners / Land Owners wanting to do it themselves
2. Home/Land owners wanting to pay the farm contractor
3. A little in between.
Again, props to the vision of a vertical tower that grows food - but it is akin to a vision for building a giant ball of fire in the sky that keeps us warm...hmmm, we have something like that don't we?
Check out this mural that MATI group painted in our office at our last fundraiser for the urban farming groups of Detroit. Note the Little Shop of Horrors theme - I thought it was appropriate - reminds me of people spending millions on vertical towers - a little shop of horrible impracticality. See link I placed because good.is won't let me post a pic on this blog - or, I have not figured it out yet.
Thanks for dealing with my lack of interest in proper grammer or spelling - thank you Gurdjieff for setting the bar on that!