For this last posting, I chose to cover the article “Urban Agriculture: Can It Feed Our Cities?”. This article brings its focus towards the city of Camden, New Jersey, a city described by the author as “anything but lush and green” even though it has been known since the 19th century as the Garden State. While this city may be the poorest of all the country, AeroFarms, an indoor agriculture firm, has been developing a small food economy in this city – something known as urban agriculture. Additionally, more than 100 of the city’s thousands of vacant lots were transformed into community gardens. This is supposed to offer healthier food and plenty of much-needed jobs. The concept of AeroFarms’ urban farms consists of large buildings filled with lightweight beds that can be stacked, which are sustained by LED lights, hydroponics and aeroponics, by which plants grow without soil and are fed a calculated diet of nutrients by water circulating beneath them. However, there are pros and cons to this concept, as pointed out by the author. One of the biggest pros of this method would be water conservation. Other pros include not needing to have the produce travel, eliminating greenhouse-gas emissions associated with transport, and the produce lasting longer because it would be fresher. The cons, on the other hand, this project would take a large amount of space and money – averaging at $250 million to build, with an additional $7 million for electricity annually. Another con is the failure to take advantage of the sunlight in order to grow produce, mainly relying on LED lights – another costly resource. Instead of relying on such big buildings, the article turns to community gardens, rooftop gardens and backyard gardens in order to give poor communities like Camden access to fresh and free food, and this seems to be the cheaper alternative until the government is willing to invest large amounts for companies like AeroFarms.
This article, in my opinion, was very fresh and eye-opening. Before reading it, I didn’t know we could grow so many vegetables in the center of a city, and I believe that AeroFarms is on the right track when it comes to making this happen. When reviewing the pros and cons, it seems that the only cons to these projects are lack of space and lack of money, however, I believe that projects for urban farming are worth investing. While the article also points out that this type of concept lacks the use of natural resources like sunlight, there are many ways to incorporate the use of it overall, such as making the roof of the buildings out of class in order to let the sunshine through during the months where it shines the brightest and switching to LED technology in the winter months where the sun is shyer. When it comes to lack of space, there are many old buildings in Montreal that used to be occupied but are now deserted. These could be used for such projects instead of keeping them empty and useless. The pros are very appealing and I feel like it would be a good idea to incorporate projects like these in the future, especially with the growing population that will progressively need more food going forward.