The European Environment Agency is considering Europe-wide building regulations that would encourage developers to include “vertical allotments” in their designs. Walls, balconies and roofs would be used to cultivate fruit and vegetables, reducing the need to bring food from the countryside.
With 80% of people living in towns in the UK and 23% of each person’s carbon footprint coming from the production of food and its transport, this idea would solve some big environmental issues. It is estimated that a 30 storey vertical farm could feed 50,000 people which means that 150 vertical farms could feed the whole of London. Add to this the fact that 80% of London’s food is imported and the potential gains look extremely attractive.
Higher temperatures in cities caused by concrete and tarmac absorbing heat and releasing it slowly, provide a longer growing season and improved yield.Rainwater could be harvested on roofs and networks of pipes would allow the water to drip through to each level, irrigating crops and removing the need for high water bills - this system would actually use 5% of the amount of water needed for a conventional farm.
Currently 50% of the world’s population lives in towns and cities but by 2050 this is estimated to rise to around 80% - the Hanging Gardens of Babylon could see a global revival.