According to the Vertical Farm Project, by the year 2050 the earth’s human population will have increased by around 3 billion, and 80% will reside in urban centers. The project estimates 109 hectares of new land (about 20% more land than the area of Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food to feed them, if traditional farming practices continue as they are practiced today.
The man behind this project, Dr. Dickson Despommier, believes the answer is simple – farm vertically. Former Columbia professor Dr. Despommier (microbiology and public health in environmental health sciences), widely considered the “father” of Vertical Farming, has travelled the world advising governments and advocating for solutions to environmental problems. I spoke to him from his home in New Jersey. The interview was scheduled to run for around 30 minutes, however we spoke for over an hour and a half. The text below is an edited version of this conversation. His enthusiasm and drive is infectious, and in an already overcrowded, overheating world, what he had to say seems to make a lot of sense.