bm269 Vertical Farming and the New Agricultural Revolution

There is more to urban farming than just growing crops on empty lots in cities. In fact, there is a type of urban farming that involves growing alot more food in tall buildings, making use of the latest innovations of crop growing and energy usage. My guest, Professor Dickson Despommier of Columbia Universty explains what vertical farming is why it is so important for the future of human existance.

The site for all information on Vertical Farming

We Discuss:

  • Types of crops that can be grown in vertical farms
  • Where would they be located
  • The costs
  • The end of flood or disease damage
  • Growing seasons in vertical farming
  • Funding and who is interested
  • Power and outside needs
  • Problem with regular urban farming


  • Tom Waits – Lost in the Harbor
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12 thoughts on “bm269 Vertical Farming and the New Agricultural Revolution

  • July 2, 2008 at 6:01 am

    where do you discuss these things? i dont see a forum @

  • July 2, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Right here in the comments Ted.

  • July 2, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    A complimentary solution with vertical farming is sub-acre farming. A sub-acre farming method now being practiced throughout the U.S. and Canada is called SPIN-Farming. SPIN stands for S-mall P-lot IN-tensive, and it makes it possible to earn significant income from growing vegetables on land bases under an acre in size. SPIN farmers utilize relay cropping to increase yield and achieve good economic returns by growing only the most profitable food crops tailored to local markets. SPIN’s growing techniques are not, in themselves, breakthrough. What is novel is the way a SPIN farm business is run. SPIN provides everything you’d expect from a good franchise: a business plan, marketing advice, and a detailed day-to-day workflow. In standardizing the system and creating a reproducible process it really isn’t any different from McDonalds. So by offering a non-technical, easy-to-understand and inexpensive-to-implement farming system, it allows many more people to farm, wherever they live, as long as there are nearby markets to support them, and it removes the two big barriers to entry sizeable acreage and significant start-up capital.
    So while vertical farming will still take some time to get off the ground, sub-are farming is already showing how agriculture can be integrated into the built environment in an economically viable manner. This is not subsistence farming. This is recasting farming as a small business in cities and towns, “right sizing” agriculture for an urbanized century and making local food production a viable business proposition once again.

    • July 2, 2008 at 8:26 pm

      Hi Roxanne.. I actually spoke to someone from Spin.. his name escapes me right now… from winnepeg.. but he was on the road when we spoke so no interview has come of that one. But cityfarm in victoria which was featured on one of my previous podcasts did mention spin, because apparently they also use spin.

      thanks for the reminder though.. i think id like to do more related to spin farming.

  • July 2, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    oh heall yeah! This was a great show. I really love this series on urban farming, and found this particular topic fascinating.

    Also, I don’t say it enough, but I admire your mad production/hosting/interviewing skills. You are a natural.

    • July 2, 2008 at 8:25 pm

      Thanks Mikey. Yah vertical farming turned out to be very interesting to me as well. Plus I hadnt realized some universities in this part of the world were heavily involved. it has sparked my curiousity to try and get someone from there to talk about their work. We shall see what I can put together.

      And thanks for the compliment. you are an important part of this production process, if you weren’t out there.. Im not sure i would be as driven to do it.

  • July 2, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    really nice show – your guest did a great job bringing up points I had never really thought of before. I’m encouraged by what you guys talked about – with all the talk of how the world is falling apart due to food prices skyrocketing and fuel shortages and whatnot, I think that it’s important to point out there ARE solutions out there. all hope is not lost, we just have to change and adapt as a planet, and this interview pointed out some very clear ways as to how we could get started.

  • Pingback: Four Interviews with City Farmers by “” — City Farmer News

    • July 29, 2008 at 12:43 am

      Thanks Alex. Ill check it out. And the campaign… wow.. didnt know about that. curious about the details.

  • August 11, 2008 at 4:42 am

    Great show, Mark. I gotta admit, the phrase “fecal event” was unexpected, but nevertheless your guest was very enlightening (and enlightened). Try to get more folks from academia on the show; I’d bet they’d make great guests. Keep up the great work.

    • August 12, 2008 at 2:18 am

      David.. I shall take your suggestion into account as I plan guests for future shows. He was indeed good.

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