In Ecology for Designers, a new course at Fordham this fall, visiting professor Dickson D. Despommier, Ph.D., will introduce students to the basics of a functional ecosystem in nature, and teach them how to apply that knowledge to redesigns of the built environment.
It’s a subject that Despommier, professor of environmental health sciences and microbiology at Columbia University, is an expert in, having authored The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century (Picador, 2011).
“If a city can begin to make its own food supply from resources within the city, it can then begin to relieve pressure on the outside environment for those resources,” he said. “That creates an ecological world which is balanced both for where we live and where everything else is.”
As for the components of vertical farming, aeroponics, the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil, is one application that is still developing. But Despommier says the next generation of LED grow lights, which will be needed to replace sunlight, will likely be sophisticated.
“There’s a statement in the Bible that says we have to be the stewards of the Earth. Vertical farming allows you to contemplate that.”
Here are what Despommier sees as the most cutting-edge vertical farms currently in operation or development.