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The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 12, 2010
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When Columbia professor Dickson Despommier set out to solve America's food, water, and energy crises, he didn't just think big - he thought up. Despommier's stroke of genius, The Vertical Farm, has excited scientists, architects, and politicians around the globe. These farms, grown inside skyscrapers, would provide solutions to many of the serious problems we currently face, including: allowing year-round crop production; providing food to areas currently lacking arable land; immunity to weather-related crop failure; re-use of water collected by de-humidification of the indoor environment; new employment opportunities; no use of pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides; drastically reduced dependence on fossil fuels; no crop loss due to shipping or storage; no agricultural runoff; and, many more. Vertical farming can be located on abandoned city properties, creating new urban revenue streams. They will employ lots of skilled and unskilled labor. They can be run on wind, solar, tidal, and geothermal energy. They can be used to grow plants for pharmaceutical purposes or for converting gray water back into drinking water. In the tradition of the bestselling The World Without Us, this is a totally original landmark work destined to become a classic. With stunning illustrations and clear and entertaining writing, this book will appeal to anyone concerned about America's future.
A Look Inside Vertical Farm
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|Pyramid Farm by Eric Ellingsen and Dickson Despommier||Urban Farm, Urban Epicenter by Jung Min Nam|
|The Dragonfly Tower by Vincent Callebaut||Harvest Green by Romses Architects|
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Top Customer Reviews
The first 131 pages of the book (out of a total of 268 pages) do not discuss the vertical farm AT ALL! Instead, the first 131 pages consist of a directionless wander through the history of the planet and of mankind, including discussion of ecosystems, "technospheres" (whatever they are!), the dustbowl of the 1930s, the spread of infectious agents, the Bible and the Reverand Billy Graham, John Steinbeck and "The Grapes of Wrath", the US Civil War, the oil industry, dynamite, the Atomic Bomb, injustice and inequality, climate change, Charles Darwin and the Galapagos Islands, genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), and HIV/AIDS. Most of these subject have little, if anything to do with vertical farming.
I got excited when I reached the 2nd half of the book and Chapter 5 entitled "The Vertical Farm: Advantages." Finally, I thought, a discussion of the vertical farm. Alas, no such luck. Very little of the second half of the book addresses vertical farming. What discussion there is about vertical farming addresses either technologies most of us know about -- such as hydroponic growing and photovoltaic cells -- or about ideas that are so far-fetched they are hardly worth discussing. The words "could", "would" and "should" are a prevalent as rats in a sewer.
If you want to get the entire content of the book, refer to pages 145-146 where a list of eleven advantages of vertical farming are given (double-spaced, I presume, to take up more space than they deserve).Read more ›
However, let's just do a back-of-the-envelope feasibility. The only economics presented by Dr. Despommier is the assertion that hydroponic farming can produce 10 to 20 times the crop output per acre than that of a traditionally maintained farm field. Let's run with that and assume an acre of Iowa farmland costs $10,000 or around $.25 per square foot. Assuming a median of 15 times the efficiency of the traditional farm, the hydroponic equivalent cost would be $3.75 per square foot, which will be our baseline comparison to solely the construction cost of the vertical farm. As you read through the book, no expense is spared in the vertical farm concept. It has at least the cost of a high rise office building shell (say, $75 per SF) plus essentially a hermetically sealed, clean room environment, tons of growing equipment, photovoltaic panels, and artificial illumination (easily an additional $225 per SF). Let's add land cost, design cost, financing costs, and other fees and the vertical farm is around $375 per SF compared to the Iowa farm equivalent of $3.75 or around 100 times more expensive before a seed has been planted!Read more ›
The book starts with the woe:
The history of agriculture (starting with the Neanderthals), the technological fall from grace, and then heart wrenching descriptions of the coming agricultural apocalypse. Is it correct? I don't know. But I'm pretty sure that, despite the provocative mental picture it evokes, restaurants in New York don't necessarily put out food waste in green plastic garbage bags (there are multiple composting programs), and the author's claim that "the Spanish troops received the lasting 'gift' of syphilis ... undoubtedly acquired from raping and pillaging sorties, which they then introduced into Europe" is hyperbole (unless he meant that they introduced raping and pillaging sorties to Europe? I'm pretty sure Europe had those already). But in this book's universe, there are wastrel societies, and steward societies, and nary the twain shall meet. (Except for those Conquistadors).
The over simplification of history leads into an oversimplification of science. "<GMOs have> come under attack because of a perception on the part of the public that GMOs are potentially harmful and should not be allowed. In fact, they have been modified to resist droughts, attack from a variety of plant pathogens, and increased amounts of herbicides." (page 130) (Try googling "roundup-ready" for why this isn't such a hot idea).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was so disappointed by this book. this guy should have gotten himself a ghost writer, because he is not an author. Read morePublished 5 days ago by john ashley
This book is free of substance, and would have no success without the eco-utopian pictures and hype that Despommier uses to sell it. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
It's a very good high-level introduction to this field and an obvious first choice as a way to introduce yourself to the topic of Agriculture for the next millennium.Published 5 months ago by jdp
Full of fantastic information and is very inspirational. If you're looking to strike up educated conversations, this book will help you achieve that.Published 8 months ago by Blake A.
A creative solution to one of the most damaging activities on the planet: contemporary farming. Vertical farming eliminates nearly all of the problems involved in agricultural... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Sagar Jethani
I greatly enjoyed this book. The concepts presented are groundbreaking, yet Dr. Despommier presents them in a way that is so logical and easy to understand. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Sara S. Jansen