Monday, January 10, 2011


The talk about vertical farming in urban areas to raise food crops for local consumption is still a dream and much needs to be done even at the drawing board level to test the very concept itself. But in a limited way some progress is being made on building large green house systems on the roof top of big buildings in Canada. According to the architects of such a project coming up in Montreal, commercial production of vegetables for supply to local consumers is expected to commence soon. What is uncertain is whether owners of buildings will readily come forward to lease their terrace areas for commercial farming and generate adequate production of vegetables to make any meaningful impact on the supply of fresh produce to the dwellers there. But the organizers feel that there is sufficient terrace area in Montreal itself which, if used for greenhouse production, can meet the vegetable requirement of the entire country!

"Montreal is better known for its urban parks and nightlife, but soon, the city will be home to a world first in farming. That's because a commercial-scale rooftop greenhouse is set to open on the flat, concrete roof of an office building close to the city's Marché Central, north of the downtown. Planting should begin in January and, if all goes to plan, customers will be able to get pesticide and herbicide-free vegetables, including tomatoes, cucumbers, bok choy and arugula as early as next spring".

It is interesting to note that the fresh produce coming out of these terrace top gardens are expected to be free from chemicals, normally found in products from land based farming, originating from fertilizers and pesticides. Probably Canada is a unique country with a clear vision for future as reflected by the mandatory regulations that have been put in place for new buildings with a certain roof top area to have terrace gardens, if construction clearance is to be given by the civic authorities. How far such coercive practice will work depends on factors such as production cost of vegetables from such high rise farms because high cost of production will naturally make the consumers shy away and they would rather prefer to buy their needs from traditional markets.

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