Vertical Farming

I recently saw an interesting zig-zaggy design for a new high-rise building.  Finally Vancouver gets some funky architecture, I thought.  Turns out it was a artist’s rendition of a proposed vertical farm.  More local produce is a good idea, but growing it in office buildings seems strange.

When I was teaching in Estonia, I tagged along with a Swedish group who were being shown around.  We stopped by a 9 or 10 storey building in a rural area.  The Soviets had used this building as a kind of vertical pig farm.  There were no snouts or trotters visible at the windows however, because the farm hadn’t worked out.  In fact, it had caused an environmental disaster.   The accumulated urine of so many pigs proved to be a problem.  It was initially stored in huge metal tanks adjoining the building.  Finally, a vast amount of urine was trucked to a nearby forest and dumped there – where it destroyed a swathe of natural woodland.  Way to go, comrades.

For two summers, I have grown peas successfully on my balcony.  As I am up on the 15th floor, I guess that makes me a vertical farmer.  One day, I was reaching over the balcony snapping off pods for dinner when a few fat pea pods already in my hand slipped away.  I felt cheated as I watched them fall 15 floors down.  I didn’t run to the elevator, but I now harvest with a firm grip.

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