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A Reflective Contextual Journal - Vertical Urban Farming

Aim and objectives

The main aim of vertical urban farming is producing fruits and vegetables by effectively utilizing the space and other resources environmental friendly manner. The objectives should reflect the purpose and benefits of this farming in details such as to year-round supply of fresh fruits and vegetables to the urban community, to reduce production cost, to reduce the cultivation space and usage of other resources, to serve as teaching and research ground for students and scientists, to reduce the environmental pollution, etc. (Scott, 2000). Therefore, the aim and objectives should match to achieve the goal of vertical urban farm construction, which is to make them so desirable in all aspects that every neighbourhood will want one for their very own.

Background of the study/introduction

The vertical urban faming idea was first developed by Professor Dickson Despommier (Columbia University, USA) in 1999. Who has explained that if all farmers continue to use current land-intensive agriculture practices, they may not be able to produce enough food to feed the world's population, which can increase by an estimated 3 billion people by 2050. By that time, 80 percent of the world's inhabitants may live in or close to cities. Therefore, he insisted the need of a new farming model (McConnell, 2008). The idea of vertical farming is to utilise the space of tall buildings to grow food year-round in environments cooled and heated by energy produced by rooftop solar panels. Despommier has also further added that a 30-story building taking up one city block could feed 50,000 people with vegetables, fruit, eggs and chicken. Upper floors would grow crops; lower floors would house chickens and fish ponds. Hydroponics would be used. Finding the required money will be the major task for the research and development (McConnell, 2008).

Expected outcomes/results

The major social benefit of the vertical farming is to provide all urban populations with a varied and plentiful harvest that eliminates food and water as resources needed for the competing population. Starvation may be reduced or eliminated and health of millions improves dramatically, largely due to proper nutrition and the lack of parasitic infections formerly acquired at the agricultural interface. This concept has the potential to accomplish the task considered in the past as nearly impossible and highly impractical. Vertical farming may be an architectural beauty as well as highly functional, bringing a sense of pride to the neighbourhoods in which they are built (Hemond and Fechner-Levy, 1999; Dubos, 1968).

Waste management and sustainability

The liquid (e.g. drained water) and solid waste from the whole farm building should be managed efficiently. The design (farm) should be sustainable in terms of resource, demand, supply, marketing, transportation, environmental concern, waster management, etc. should be validated. Liquid wastes are generally processed (digested and then de-sludged), then treated with a bactericidal agent (e.g., chlorine) and released into the nearest convenient body of water. However, sometimes it is discarded without treatment, which is believed to greatly increase the health risks associated with infectious disease transmission due to fecal contamination (Eckenfelder, 1999; Malkow, 2004). All possible non-decomposable solid waste are commonly re-cycled (returnable cans, bottles, cardboard packages, etc.) and/or used in energy generating schemes. Methane generation contributes significantly to energy generation and may be able to supply enough to run vertical farms without the use of electricity from the grid. In the mean time, all decomposable solid wastes are used to make compost, which intern is used as organic fertilizer in the same location (Dumontet, et al., 2001; Wie, et al., 2003).

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