According to the experts at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, world population will balloon to over 9.1 million people, by the year 2050. While feeding everybody is bound to be a challenge, it will be even more so, given that over 70 percent of them will be residing in cities. While urban farming inside specially created greenhouses has been suggested for many years, it has never been close to becoming a reality - Until now.
Two weeks ago, a Swedish-American company called Plantagon finally broke ground in Linkoping, Sweden, for what is slated to become the world's first commercial urban farming greenhouse. The massive skyscraper, which will be called the International Center of Excellence for Urban Agriculture, is being designed to not only grow fresh vegetables and fruit, but also, be a place for researchers from all over the world to exchange ideas and test new methodologies to improve urban farming yields.
Designed to blend in with the architecture around, the Plantascraper will be no ordinary farm. The sleek structure with glass walls will be positioned to take full advantage of free solar energy from the sun. Inside, low maintenance vegetables and fruits will be planted in pots that are placed on three parallel conveyer belts. These will be constantly in motion to ensure that the plants receive sunlight on all sides. As they grow, the conveyer belts will slowly begin to migrate them toward a central core and then to the bottom of the building, by which time, they should be ready for harvesting.
Plant residue, manure and any unusable fruits and vegetables will be converted to biogas to fuel the heating and cooling systems of the greenhouse. In addition to that, the engineers envision integrating the building in a way that will help clean up the city air by absorbing the carbon dioxide emitted from the surrounding buildings.
Even the planned commercial area around the greenhouse will be developed using the latest technologies so that it is extremely energy efficient and as 'green' as can be. In addition to that, the fact that the vegetables will not have to be brought in from farms that lie hundreds of miles away, will also help reduce the carbon footprint.
If everything goes according to schedule, the Plantascraper will be ready to begin 'farming' within a short 12-16 months. Once all the kinks are removed, the company plans to take this concept all over the world, building structures that blend in and help clean up the environment, and most importantly provide a solution to what could become an acute food crises within the next 40 years.
What's most interesting about Plantagon is that it is not the brainchild of some giant corporations, but a collaboration between Swedish social entrepreneur Hans Hassle, and New York-based Native American Tribe, Onondaga Nation. The two have been trying to make this dream a reality since 2008 and their perseverance has finally paid off. Hopefully, some large corporations will take the cue from these visionaries and follow their lead.
While the architects seems to have changed the design for the Linkoping Plantascraper from the circular globe depicted in the video, to a vertical skyscraper, their vision, remains the same.
Resources: thecreatorsproject.com, inhabitat.com, treehugger.com,wikipedia.com,plantagon.com