Shortening the Food Chain

FREE

for Members

Shortening the Food Chain

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The New York Academy of Sciences

Presented By

Presented by the Green Science and Environmental Policy Discussion Group and the Environmental Sciences Section

 

Modern conventional agriculture is an intense user of many resources, including land for crop production, water for irrigation, fertilizers for productivity and fossil fuels for transportation from farm to consumer. Climate change is shifting growing regions and causing changes in precipitation patterns, with series effects on crop yields. To meet the needs of the growing population with the limited resources available, more sustainable methods of food production must be adopted.

One possible solution is growing food in urban centers, where the highest concentration of population resides. At this meeting, Cynthia Rosenzweig will discuss adaptation and mitigation strategies for agriculture in the face of climate change. Dickson Despommier will present a vision of "Vertical Farms", skyscrapers growing food in urban centers. Ted Caplow will show examples of the successful urban farms he has designed.

Agenda

Climate Change and Urban Agriculture: Adaption and Mitigation
Cynthia Rosenzweig, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Urban Agriculture: The Vertical Farm
Dickson Despommier, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Building Integrated Agriculture
Ted Caplow, BrightFarm Systems

Panel Discussion

Climate Change and Urban Agriculture: Adaption and Mitigation

Cynthia Rosenzweig, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Development of urban agriculture is proceeding in the context of dynamic atmospheric and climatic change. Air pollution, urban heat island, and global climate change modify the urban environment, affecting how and which food crops can be grown. Current and future climate change affects urban agriculture in regard to both adapting to climate risks and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. Efforts linking New York City and its bioregion include the Carbon Credits for Hudson Valley Farmers Project, which we are developing with the Glynwood Farm Center.

Urban Agriculture: The Vertical Farm

Dickson Despommier, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Urban agriculture, in which crops are grown in tall buildings using state-of-the-art hydroponics and aeroponics techniques, could facilitate the way high density population centers gain access fresh, safe produce all year round. Indoor farming avoids climate change issues related to severe weather events (droughts, floods, etc), while allowing for controled input of nutrients, thus avoiding pesticides, heavy metals, and other noxious contaminants of our food supply.

Building Integrated Agriculture

Ted Caplow, BrightFarm Systems

The 21st century is unfolding as a time of rapid urbanization, climate change, and ecological sensitivity. Against this backdrop, providing cities with high quality food indefinitely is perceived as a challenge, and moving agricultural production directly into the built environment is receiving increasing attention. Modern approaches to urban agriculture share a focus on hydroponics, water recirculation, and renewable energy. Sustainable urban farms will also require integration with existing building forms and functions, especially in the area of energy supply.

Following the creation in 2006 of a floating demonstration farm on the Manhattan waterfront, a series of highly efficient urban farming systems have been planned and developed by BrightFarm Systems and its partners. Specific installations in the New York City area are presented and analyzed, including the Science Barge, Whole Foods Market, P.S. 333, Solar Two, and two commercial rooftop farms. A selection of international projects are summarized to illustrate the factors that drive demand for building integrated agriculture in different environments. Taken together, these projects strive to lay a foundation stone for a broader model of ecologically sustainable cities.

BrightFarm Systems is a commercial design consultancy providing technical services in support of rooftop greenhouses and building integrated agriculture in commercial and educational settings worldwide.