Thursday, March 26, 2015

Audacious Idea: Part 3


That's right, superfarming.

Allow me to define:

      A Superfarm is a Farm which is fuckin Sup'd up.

And by Sup'd up I mean a combination of vertical and subterranean hydroponics.

The goal is simple: build a farm in a skyscraper.  No problem, right?

Wrong.  Actually indoor farming has been attempted before, unsuccessfully, because of the high cost, and in fact it is likely that large-scale high-demand crops like rice, wheat, and corn would be untenable as interior crops.  The scale is just too large.  However, for small legumes and other vegetables, indoor farming is showing some promise.

My audacious proposal is that every city should have one vertical farm (to start).

But how can we do it Ben?  Guide us Ben!

Calm down everyone.

It's easy, because it can be crowdfunded.

Because people need vegetables, but they don't need them to come from 2000 km away. We can grow bananas in New York!  Not only that, the interior farming makes pesticides a non-issue, keeping the process green.

Consider that the organic produce market has been swelling over 3% every year for the past 10 years, some places as high as 5%. There is a market.  And where there is a market, there is potential for growth.  So let's make these vertical farms job creators as well.  They sell the veggies to local markets and restaurants, and those businesses can boast of locally grown pesticide free organic Kale! Those yuppies will suck that shit up.  It has promise because it could be win-win.

Crowdfunding would be a good way to do this -  let's say, your contribution comes back in groceries. If you live in a city, make a $5000 donation, or $10 dollars.  You get what you give, and you can always go and buy whatever you like when the project is complete.

Or become a shareholder, and reap the profits of a novel market on the rise.

All this being said, there are some barriers.

To illuminate and climate-control plants day and night is costly, and often not less so than the profits, making it unsustainable.  However, these problems can be overcome with improvements in technology and innovation.  Don't wanna light your plants during the day?  Build a mirror array around the building and give them some natural light.  Advancements in LEDs can make them run for longer, cheaper, and not require replacement as often.  It falls under the price : performance  curve of the Law of Accelerating Returns, meaning it gets even cheaper, and even more effective, over time.

Climatological control can also be optimized.  New metamaterials allow for better insulation of heat. It has also recently been discovered that magnetic fields can influence heat and sound.  Make it an engineering challenge for your local university.  Get a bunch of grad students on it, they work for peanuts. Between them there will be ideas.  Be bold!  Nobody ever built something great by timidity. 

This has been audacious idea number 3 - crowdfunded vertical-subterranean farms!

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