Dirk Knemeyer

Urbanity & Agriculture

Urbanity & Agriculture, June 9, 2016

There’s a lot of unknowns in terms of a future that would theoretically require urban agriculture, and so what I mean by that is we don’t know exactly how the world is going to change as a virtue of global warming, which is the most likely cataclysmic event that will significantly change the ways in which we live. There’s a lot of scenarios of how it can go. I mean, many people envision a future of mega cities because that’s in line with what we’ve seen happening, which is to say, as you mentioned, more and more people are in cities every year. These urban agriculture solutions are being envisioned, but depending on how things go, it may be that instead of trying to build up, we build out.

Building up is expensive, so to build a high rise requires a tremendous amount of carbon emission. There’s no two ways about it. From the materials, to the construction, the whole nine yards, and that’s happening while we have a majority of Canada, a majority of Russia, a majority of China. I’m talking about the largest countries in the world, a majority of them are wide open space. I think there’s an open question of whether the future is one of up, not out, because if we move into the open space that is out, it’s far cheaper. You don’t need steel, and concrete, and these other modern building materials in order to house and sustain people, basically.

Providing food, providing agriculture is not a hobby thing, at the current level of agricultural technology. I mean, it’s a profession. It’s something that you have to put a significant amount of time into, have a significant amount of expertise, and have the correct supplies and knowledge. So many things that we idealize as being part of this Utopian urban future, imagine in hobbyist ways, simply aren’t hobbyist things.

These are things that, yes, they need to be local, yes, they need to be integrated, but that doesn’t mean that Tom, Dick, and Harry, to use the traditional and male focused list of generic names, as part of their day, screw around with their little in-house agriculture, and “ta-da,” there’s going to be food there. Maybe someday, but certainly not now. I mean, this is something that requires real professional people putting significant amount of time into to realize.