How to Plan a City: Sustainable Food Sources
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How to Plan a City: Sustainable Food Sources

Sustainable and self-reliant cities need to grow and sell their own foor.

There are few things more vital to maintaining a city's success than having a steady, reliable source of food. And as the world's population continues to explode, meeting the eating need of urban dwellers will become ever challenging.

Gordon Graff, a University of Waterloo graduate student, has come up with a solution to the problem of feeding the globe's growing appetites. He would have cities build something he calls a Sky Farm -- a high-rise hydroponic version of the traditional farm. With the Sky Farm, cities would be able to grow things like carrots, wheat, soy beans, as well as raise chickens and fish.

A grocery store located on the main floor would all but eliminate the carbon production associated with the long-distance transportation of goods. And with a biogas facility included in the building's sub-levels, all organic waste would be transformed into energy needed to run the entire operation. Any surplus electricity would be subsequently sold back to the grid.

Sky Farm would produce approximately 500,000 pounds of eggs, nearly 1 million pounds of meat, & 54 million pounds of fruit in one year. This amount would serve to feed roughly 40,000 people.

Graff has come up with an alternate design which he calls Grow Housing. This concept would be smaller than Sky Farm and include a mixture of housing, commercial, and street-level retail units. The entire roof of the complex would serve as a community garden for low-income residents.

If a city is not inclined, or in a position, to construct an entire Sky Farm or Grow Housing, it would be able to simply convert abandoned buildings, or add growing space to office/retail/residential buildings. If such a move would still be extraneous on city coffers, then the next best thing would be to offer some sort of tax credit for those who establish a greenhouse/hydroponic operation in their own backyards.

In addition to providing its citizens with a reliable source of food, cities would also be able to significantly reduce the costs of the produce & meat grown/raised in a Sky Farm, Grow Housing or similar, less-expensive concepts. And, of course, such projects would create a significant amount of jobs.

Cities who invest in creating their own zero-carbon revenue-generating year-round farms, will be better off in the years to come. Any Urban region that fails to implement this type of program may be faced with its own speedy extinction.

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