Dickson Despommier brought his idea for vertical urban farms to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on Friday, and his audience of more than 100 people responded with a mixture of enthusiasm and skepticism.
Despommier is director of the Vertical Farm Project and a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. He believes the combination of increasing human population and the increasing crop failures seen on much of our cropland necessitates new ways of producing food. He proposes vertical indoor farms that grow hydroponically, use local wastewater and solid waste (as fertilizer), and market to local urban customers as one way to address the growing demand for food.
“Do we need to invent anything to make this happen? The answer is no,” Despommier said. “I think the solutions are out there. We just have to piece them together in the proper way.”