Sunday, 17 June 2018

Agriculture 2.0

This documentary about Vertical Agriculture is just amazing. I used to think of "Urban Agriculture" mainly as a nice hobby with a social component. If you live in a flat in a city you need to be a bit lucky to enjoy that hobby. The options are:

  • You have a balcony (relatively common in France, totally uncommon in Asturies) and you can grow there a few tomatoes, strawberries and even have a small orange tree in a pot.
  • The building where your flat is placed has some sort of private garden (rather common in France, very uncommon in Asturies) and the neighbours have agreed in setting a growing area. This could also happen in your building's roof.
  • Some neighbours association has agreed with the city council to set up some growing area in some park or unused space (this happens sometimes in France, is unknown to me in Asturies).

Well, all the above is cool, but has nothing to do with the documentary. This documentary is about how to set up agricultural facilities in towns that would really help to feed the town regularly (with veggies that in many cases do not grow in the city's climate), not just a neighbours lunch. City space is rare and expensive, so the idea is taking the conventional greenhouse to its version 5.0! You can start by hanging up if possible different layers of growing veggies in one container and then move to setting multistories plantations. You can also skip using soil and move into Hydroponics. The concept envisioned by one Swedish entrepreneur where a building would be used for office space and agricultural space is beautiful.

What amazed me the most is how by fully controlling the weather in your container: temperature, light, humidity... you can grow anything maximising its nutrients and taste. If you know that certain harvest a certain year in a certain place was particularly tasty, and you have access to the weather patterns in that place that year, you can be close to replicating it. Agriculture is becoming the new IT freaks realm!

When in October 2016 I was travelling by train from Amsterdam Airport to Rotterdam I felt totally amazed by the huge extension of modern greenhouses. These had nothing to do with the ones covered in plastic that are so important in Southern Spain, these were glasshouses, like the ones in a botanical garden, but on a massive scale. This shows up in the documentary and happens to be called Westland.

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