I am currently researching vertical farming and urban agriculture practices in regard to the role of urban design for my dissertation. As part of this research I am conducting interviews with a mixture of professionals who have insight into urban design practices, specifically urban greening, and vertical urban farming. I am looking to speak to innovators, architects, farmers, ecologists and people who work on the policy surrounding the implementation of urban agriculture and greening projects.
I would be exceedingly grateful if anyone would like to get in touch to answer a few questions. I am happy to share my research once it is completed.
I'm no expert by any means, I'm new here and I've been an Urban Farmer for less than a year. What I can tell you about Urban Farming, at least here in my area is that the local government wants to lump us in with the community gardeners and they don't want to tax you as an agricultural entity unless you're already a profitable business. For me as a person starting a farm on a blighted city lot I face a lot of pilferage and theft of equipment. Security is difficult when most of the people you encounter are drunk or high and looking for a way to feed their habit before they feed themselves.
I currently have 36 small raised beds on my farm and a lot of projects in process. We're clearing brush from a small thicket where homeless persons have been living, Our planting strategy changed when we discovered that our property that had been four home sites were filled with gravel and slag with only three inches of soil on top when the county tore them down. So in come the wood chips and we're going to chip and or compost every bit of waste off the land until we build up from what is essentially a rock pile.
So far as vertical farming is concerned- I'm not sure where the break even scenario is with that. I know that starting my own seeds under LED lights saves a little money in the short term but across a certain time span, more than 30 days the return diminishes and becomes more labor intensive and the savings goes away. In a larger scale in an industrial setting it would only be greater expense and I would imagine that economy of scale is almost impossible to reach. That said there is a difference also in growing a volume of food and growing stuff that tastes good also. So my preference is definitely going to be growing outdoors in the sun.