The possibilities of urban and vertical agriculture are fascinating. These systems have the potential to rewrite the rules about what crops are grown where. They have the potential to solve transportation, water, and land availability issues.
A large downside? These systems are truly factory farming and could require large capital investment.
AND! As someone long-involved with pest management, I am convinced these systems are more vulnerable to catastrophic failure from pest infestations and pathogenic pandemics.
“Vegetables have the shortest distance between the consumer and the farm. They are a tangible, edible link between us and the people we think of when we think ‘farmer.‘”
Commodity crops don’t really represent “the farmer most of us meet at the farmers market, the one running the farm of our imagination”. But, the commodity crops are what feed us. According to the FAO, about 60% of the world’s calories come from just 3 crops: corn, wheat, and rice. Other commodities such as sorghum, soybeans, and millet are important, too.
‘If we are going to feed [the billions of people on the earth in 2050], and us, responsibly and healthfully, vegetables are not the answer.
Haspel, Tamar. We Need to Feed A Growing Plante. Vegetables Aren’t the Answer. The Washington Post. December 15, 2016.
In 2015, The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the organic industry continued to show remarkable growth domestically and globally, with 19,474 certified organic operations in the United States and a total of 27,814 certified organic operations around the world.
According to data released by the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP), the number of domestic certified organic operations increased by more than 5 percent over the last year. Since the count [of farms] began in 2002, the number of domestic organic operations has increased by over 250 percent.
An ongoing list of USDA certified organic operations and reports on the number of certified operations can be found at https://organic.ams.usda.gov/integrity/