By: Athea Volpe
“The City of Edmonton is well positioned to be one of the cities embracing food as part of its planning and sustainability agenda.”
Could vertical farming be a vital step into Edmonton's sustainable future?
What is Vertical Farming?
Vertical farming is the method of generating food, by implementing advanced technologies in order to maximize the farms output. Overall, making it an efficient form of farming. This can be located on vertically inclined surfaces, thus this progressive method of farming is unique as it can be integrated within the city core.
Advantages to Vertical Farming:
The “What You Should Know About Vertical Farming” article, analyzes current trends we've seen over the decades regarding the relationship between the increase of population, and how that affects the demand for accessible food. The article helps us analyze how vertical farming, can help alleviate the transition for a more sustainable future. The article explains the efficiency of vertical farming and how we can “produce crops with 70-95 percent less water than required for normal cultivation.”As well as maximize the use of space by adopting efficient practices. For example,“1 acre of an indoor area offers equivalent production to at least 4-6 acres of outdoor capacity.”Even with Edmonton’s unpredictable weather patterns, vertical farming is insusceptible to extreme unfavourable weather. Therefore, making this a more favourable form of cultivation as prairie winters can be long and harsh.
Is there a need for it?
As more research being dedicated to climate change, it has become evident that urban behaviour is closely related to climate change effects. A common trend we see in Canada, is the immense amount of space. The space allowing people to sprawl, consequently will push the city limits outward. This type of growth stimulates an automobile dependent lifestyle, which strays far from sustainable practices. As a result of Edmonton becoming one of the fastest growing cities in Canada, “Edmonton will require a minimum of 150,000 new housing units by 2040.”We must find sustainable practices, to offset the inevitable negative effects of sprawl. Alberta being known for its incredibly fertile land, it's a shame to come to grips that greenfield development is our reality. According to the City of Edmonton’s Annual Growth Monitoring Report, in “the past decade Edmonton has converted an average of 1,000 ha of agricultural/ reserve zoned land annually into urban zones.”For this reason, we need to compensate for the loss of agricultural land, thus finding alternative ways to access fresh and local food.
The City of Edmonton has developed a Municipal Development Plan (MDP), called the ‘Way We Grow’. According to the MDP, Edmonton defines sustainability as “[a] way of living which meets the needs of the present and does not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”This particular plan focuses on how the city of Edmonton will strategically plan their city for a more sustainable future using a holistic approach. In the MDP, Food Security is one of the main themes that will hopefully lead us to a sustainable future. The objective is to “Increase access to local food through city-wide and neighbourhood-level approaches”.With this municipal development plan, advocating for sustainable urban food systems integrated within the city. A vertical farm, may be the perfect remedy for a step in the right direction.
Edmonton facing a new chapter regarding the increase in population and loss of agricultural land, due to greenfield development. It is left to the City of Edmonton, to implement progressive changes to our city infrastructure. After considering the Municipal Development Plan, a vertical farm matches many of the goals/ objectives the MDP withholds when it comes to food security. Given that Climate Change can be a very intimidating task for a city to combat, a vertical farm can help us transition to a more sustainable future.
Q: Do you think there are better ways to help alleviate the effects of sprawl?:
Who Invented Vertical Farming: Gilbert Ellis Bailey, in 1915.
Planning and Development Department, The Way We Grow, October 23,2009, date Accessed: March 20,2019.
LeBlanc, Robert, What You Should Know About Vertical farming,2019. Date Accessed: March 21,2019. https://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-you-should-know-about-vertical-farming-4144786
Chief Planner, Annual Growth Monitoring Report,City of Edmonton, 2017, Date Accessed: March, 19 2019. https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/PDF/GrowthMonitoringReport2017.pdf
Ibid, Pg. 28
The City of Edmonton, The Way We Grow. P.7.2010, Date Accessed: March 21, 2019. https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/PDF/MDP_Bylaw_15100.pdf
City of Edmonton, The Way We Grow, City of Edmonton, October, 23 2009. Date Accessed: March, 20 2019. https://webdocs.edmonton.ca/OcctopusDocs/Public/COMPLETE/REPORTS/CC/CSAM/2009-11-12/Att%201%20Oct%2023%20reference%20document.pdf