When I first read Dickson Despommier’s “A Farm on Every Floor” op-ed in the New York Times in 2009, I thought I’d died and gone to hell. My living heart beats for the way sunshine and rain resurrect spring life from seeds in the soil. To me, his vision of feeding the future with hydroponic systems in hyper-controlled skyscraper farms sounded straight out of the Matrix.
Which is why, while working on Edible Manhattan’s innovations issue, I knew we had to profile him.
Despommier, a microbiologist who for 38 years taught at Columbia University’s School of Public Health, is author of The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century and a full-time evangelist for vertical farming. And while these systems might not bother with the timeless dance of rain on soil, he says they would ultimately be far better for the planet than outdoor agriculture.
Skeptical? Me too. But check out this great, two-minute animated video about vertical farming (don’t stacked greenhouses sound lovely?), and Despommier preaching the gospel on Colbert Report (what, no trickle-down pun?), and you may get brainwashed — oops — I mean convinced: farming in fields… it’s so 20th century.