June 17, 2009 at 11:17 pm #173958
A friend sent me a link to a really cool take on sustainable groceries. Check it out.
If it is actually feasible then it would help to limit the range that produce has to come from to remain sustainable. I think that 500 mile is still considered sustainable which seems ridiculous. If every grocery store had something like this it could reduce the load on the highways a bit. Also anyone who has their own garden knows the superior quality of harvesting fresh produce. I have some tomatoes coming in that you can just smell the difference of the fresh ones.
Anyway check out the link and sound off. Do you think it is doable or not?June 18, 2009 at 4:14 pm #173971
I love it and think its doable!
I wonder how much it would cost to retrofit the roof of a big box store that can barely support its own weight?June 18, 2009 at 4:58 pm #173970
Good point about the weight. My father in-law is a general superintendant in California and they are always remodeling those type of stores. Maybe then they could beef up the structure.June 19, 2009 at 4:15 pm #173969
Cool site and a good idea. Stuff like this makes perfect sense, makes you wonder why it hasn’t been implemented at a large scale yet?? Maybe this would lead to consumers appreciating local, seasonal food again? There are plenty of organic farmers out there just waiting for opportunities like this…June 19, 2009 at 10:15 pm #173968Zach JorgensenParticipant
Looks like another great way to start programming multiple levels of space and functionality into urban environments. The food connection adds to the opportunities for community building, education, and access to a more wholistic landscape, + fresh vegi’s do taste better when just picked.
I am curious why the idea has to stop at the buildings edge though? Extending the idea outward could start to mitigate the effects of the large parking lots surrounding grocery and other big box stores by reducing stormwater runoff, reducing the heating effect of exposed paving, while adding interest and complexity to the landscape. Such a structure could also provide shelter for people entering the store during inclement weather and reduce the need for snow plowing in northern cities.
An idea full of possibilities!June 20, 2009 at 1:28 am #173967
Ha ha great points Andrew. It sounded pretty good at first but your points bring it into reality. The idea might be good on a conceptual basis. It could excite more people back into gardening at home and also bring a new dimension to the green roof culture.
Do you have any stats on trains vs. semi trucks?June 21, 2009 at 7:37 pm #173966
This system is hydroponic so there would be no soil to haul up. But Andrew is probably right. There would be no advantage to growing food on the roof to be sold in a store. Growing food on roofs and balconies is probably better for individuals who want to grow their own veggies. I’m all for growing food in the city, but this is probably not the best way to do it.
As for trains vs. trucks, I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. Trains are good at hauling stuff long distance and trucks are good at taking stuff directly to the place it’s sold. They work well in combination, so it’s not about one vs. the other. Here’s one link on the subject: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/05/rail-trucking-greenest.phpJune 23, 2009 at 8:26 pm #173965
here we go again.
i’m all for a good critique, but disregarding unique approaches to future problems because of assumptions based on the endless supply of cheap oil is not cool.
further scoffing at the amount of work required to actually bring ideas into reality is not cool either. i shudder to think where humanity would be if everyone felt that way.
i try to be an optimistic person, but when landscape architects fall into complacency and somehow convince themselves that it is better to ship produce from mexico rather than growing it locally, it really bums me out. the fact that we can convince ourselves that it would not make “economic” sense to to grow (or manufacture) goods as close to the location that they will be used is a testament to how completely dependent we are on cheap oil.
i don’t disagree with all of the points that have been made, but i completely disagree with the assumption that we can continue believing that modes of production and transportation developed in the last century will continue to serve us in the next.
of course this particular idea- proposed by some business students for their thesis- has some major underlying issues that need to be worked out. that’s where we come in. or are we all going to say f-it and drive home?
p.s.- a quick search indicates that yields of 300 TONS of tomatos per acre are possible in a hydroponic greenhouse.June 24, 2009 at 9:44 pm #173964
I shouldn’t say this, since I have freinds in Reno who are trying to start a hydroponics business, but it is mainly the hydroponics part of this system I’m not too fond of. The thing is, it requires the same artificial fertilizers that the huge factory farms do. I just think you get a better product when you farm organically in the soil on the ground.
Maybe that’s a personal bias I got from my time at my first job. I just think when humans try to simplify things we don’t fully understand, we are in for trouble. That’s what we’ve done with farming in general. There’s this idea that all plants need is fertilizer and water and the rest of the soil just anchors the root. Good soil is a lot more complex than that, and I think our food plants should be grown in good soil.
I do think there are plenty of places in more urban areas that people could successfully grow food, and I like the idea of solar and water harvesting. Roofs have a lot of wasted space that could go to some use or another. I think a more conventional green roof is a better idea, though. Then you can choose plants that don’t need good soil.
I’m sure the hydroponic system isn’t what other people are objecting to. I was surrounded by permaculturists at my first job, and they stress the importance of building good soil for food plants.June 25, 2009 at 10:33 pm #173963
that’s a couple responses completely missing my point, so i’ll try again.
convince me that it is better to continue transporting produce long distances than consuming as close to the source as possible.
then, convince me that transporting produce long distances can continue for the rest of my lifetime-let alone my unborn children’s lifetimes, taking into account economic, social, and environmental considerations.
finally, understand that being overly critical of new ideas is equally dangerous and short-sighted to jumping on the bandwagon and becoming greenwashed.
i am not in support of “skyvegtables” because of many of the reasons that were brought up. i support the concept under some circumstances, and realize that there are many details that need to be worked out.
i am opposed to the way the arguments were presented, and the way that certain completely irrelevant points were locked onto or presented as fact.June 26, 2009 at 6:31 pm #173962
If all you are saying is that this idea should be given a chance to prove itself, I find it hard to argue with that. I certainly wouldn’t stand in the way of someone who wanted to do it, and I don’t think that trucks being able haul large amounts of food justifies bringing all our food into cities from far flung corners of the earth. I just think there are plenty of other ways to grow food in cities that don’t require as much energy input as this, and that food grown in soil is likely to be better nutritionally. There are plenty of examples of urban agriculture in parks, schoolyards, etc.
From what I’ve read on the internet since this discussion started, growing food on roofs hydroponically is a fairly popular idea in places like New York. The idea does have merit where land is scarce. Land is not scarce around big box stores, though.June 28, 2009 at 7:25 pm #173961
Wow, this has turned into quite the rigorous and thoughtful exchange of ideas, with great points being made on both sides. I’m definitely one that is guilty of quickly jumping on any bandwagon that tries to eliminate fertilizers and shipping food hundreds of miles when it can be grown locally instead. But through this discussion I see that this can be equally dangerous.
A cool site that looks at some of these issues is http://www.sustainablefoodlab.org/
I definitely don’t fault this design or any others for their enthusiasm or desire for change, that’s definitely what’s needed. The involvement of many, with drastically different opinions (i.e. this discussion) is where the best opportunities can be found…June 29, 2009 at 6:29 pm #173960
Nice website. Here’s a video I posted in another discussion that is probably more relevent here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sohI6vnWZmk&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fpermaculture%2Eorg%2Eau%2FJune 30, 2009 at 4:40 pm #173959
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