Sunday, February 28, 2010
Columbia University - 2008
Presented to Go Green NYC, and Washington D.C. Developers
We have designed a modular, scalable piece of farming infrastructure that, while applicable in any urban setting, would be particularly viable for implementation in the East Harlem neighborhood. Our design, in its most basic form, only requires enough space for one cube and access to water and electricity. Although direct access to sunlight can reduce the electricity costs of our model, it also operates effectively in places completely vacant of light. The design is very low cost and very low maintenance. Although it currently only supports the cultivation of micro greens—small leafy plants that don’t bloom—most herbs and spices, as well as some salad greens, fall into this category.
Some other hydroponic systems are more efficient, or better suited for growing a wide range of fruit and vegetables, these alternatives all carried a significantly higher capital cost. The next concern was ease of implementation. Our system is easy to construct, easy to maintain, and easy for inexperienced members of the community to farm and harvest themselves. From an engineering standpoint we needed a system that could operate under a variety of conditions, including lack of direct sunlight, limited space, and adverse weather conditions. By providing supplementary light from LED lamps, optimizing space, and including elements that protect against unfavorable weather conditions, we have allowed for our system to be placed virtually anywhere. Finally, we have considered which crops would be best received by consumers. By considering a wide range of available micro greens and by including an aquaponic extension, our vertical farms will produce enough variety to pique the interest of potential supporters. The system which we have created meets all of our goals: it is cheap, simple, robust, and diverse.
(breif taken from Engineer James Banner Tech Memorandum)