The idea for vertical farming was born in 1999 in a Columbia University classroom when Dickson Despommier, a professor of environmental sciences and microbology, offhandedly mentioned the idea to his students. Inspired by the idea, Despommier and his class made the first outline of a vertical farm in 2001, and created the website verticalfarm.com to chronicle their research.
The benefits of vertical farming are, according to Despommier, manifold. First of all, it would protect crops from weather-related failures due to floods, droughts and pests. Secondly, it would help fight climate change. How so? Despommier argues that a major reason our climate is changing is because of the depletion of forests, that are often cleared out for crops. If forests were able to regrow where crops now exist, it would lessen carbon dioxide emissions.
One of the largest motivators for vertical farms is overpopulation. According to New York magazine, nearly all the land that could potentially be farmed is already being farmed on. Vertical farms would be built in urban areas and would have the resources to feed people on a massive scale.
It all sounds great, but combining agricultural practices with sustainable buildings, and making it all affordable, however, might be a little trickier. To that, Despommier says they should be funded by private sources. And for the time being, that's not stopping architects from putting their ideas out there. We've compiled some of the most intriguing vertical farm designs out there that, under ideal circumstances, would be sustainable, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing. Have a look, and vote for your favorite.