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August 24, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Jack London: sustainable farmer. Seattle: vertical farm town?

Bob Koreis of Vancouver, Washington isn’t so impressed by the idea of vertical farming — as espoused by Columbia University professor of public heath Dickson Despommier in today’s New York Times. After reading my post on the subject Bob wrote suggesting “we just need to take care of the soil” instead. He also passed along some information that was surprising and fascinating news to me: Jack London — yes, that Jack Londonwas a sustainable farmer! Dan Albert, on the other hand, thinks vertical farming may be more than just the call of the wild. He suggests it’s closer to becoming a reality than one might think.

“Our firm, Weber Thompson is actually working on bringing that concept to Seattle,” Dan wrote in an e-mail. The company’s “Eco-Laboratory” has won two major design competitions and has received praise for it’s viability by none other than Professor Despommier, who’s writing a book on the subject. Dan invited me to view the Eco-Lab design and informed me Weber Thompson presented the project to Seattle City Council late last month.

If you were here in this Eco-Laboratory you’d be home already — in an urban residential complex with its own vertical farm. (graphic/Weber Thompson)

In his closing statement today, Despommier told readers: “When people ask me why the world still does not have a single vertical farm, I just raise my eyebrows and shrug my shoulders. Perhaps people just need to see proof that farms can grow several stories high. As soon as the first city takes that leap of faith, the world’s first vertical farm could be less than a year away from coming to the aid of a hungry, thirsty world. Not a moment too soon.”

All of which leads me to wonder: Could that city be Seattle? Hmmm. I can already envision it — in the South Lake Union neighborhood with a view of that other futuristic landmark!

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