There’s only so much arable land on this Earth to go around and since we’ve plowed under, asphalted over or otherwise spoiled a lot of it, it can’t hurt to look at some new ways of food production.
One theory is to incorporate agriculture within cities, growing up, rather than out. Instead of using hothouses or vast stretches of land to grow tomatoes and beans, specially constructed buildings, several stories high, could be used to grow food year round. Properly designed, these vertical farms would fit into the urban landscape as easily as any other building.
If those buildings also produced their own heating, cooling and electricity using a combination of renewable energy systems, the risks to crops from energy interruptions could be virtually eliminated, giving us a sustainable and reliable food supply. Any excess energy or electricity generated by those systems could be used in other nearby buildings or as part of a larger public energy system.
Such farms wouldn’t be limited to fruits and veggies. Fish farms could also be incorporated, with the fish waste used as fertilizer and the fish eventually beer battered and fried.
They’re doing just that at Bendale Business and Technical Institute in Scarborough. One thousand gallon tanks hold several hundred tilapia, a herbivorous white fish that’s ideal for farming. Their nutrient-rich poo is used as plant food and pumped to a series of growing beds. The system supplies seasonal produce and year round herbs to the school’s culinary arts program and, in the summer when there are fewer students, enough for a community market, in partnership with FoodShare Toronto.