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The Potentially Extraordinary Future in Urban Farming | by Caleb Kinnear | Aug, 2020

People all over the world do not have easily accessible healthy fruits and vegetables because of the naturally high price of healthy produce. By not eating vegetables regularly, the essential fibers, vitamins, and minerals are lost and damage your body’s mental and physical health. By not eating healthily you can develop chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease and in some cases have complete organ failure. If you live in a food desert then your chances of developing these diseases rises dramatically. A food desert is a place where certain foods run low and inflation is occurring. An example of a food desert is the South and West sides of Chicago. Because healthier food is rarer to obtain in those areas, inflation masks the rarity with a higher price point. This may also be why college students in the United States have worse diets than many other people. Because of the high price put on healthy foods as opposed to the more affordable, unhealthy foods, college students will almost always pick the cheapest option. To have smart and healthy people coming out of colleges, neighborhoods, and nations, there needs to be cost-efficient yet healthy foods as an alternative to what there is now.

The Earth has been developing for millions upon millions of years. Because of this, plants have become very versatile and efficient at using photosynthesis to grow. Photosynthesis is the process of plant life absorbing sunlight and CO2 through the canopy to make energy/food. With the help of H2O coming from the roots, the energy/food can be absorbed by the plant. A bi-product of photosynthesis is the gas, oxygen. One plant that photosynthesizes exceptionally well is the White Pine Tree. With a pyramidal shape that points high into the sky, every needle on the tree gets close to the same amount of sunlight, no matter the density of the space that the tree is in. The branches on a White Pine tree are spaced out using the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio is the spacing between leaves, shells, etc which is commonly found in nature. Because the spacing of the branches on a White Pine uses the Golden Ratio, the branches don’t cover each other, meaning that the pine needles have ideal sunlight for most of the day. This also means that photosynthesis gets boosted meaning that the tree will grow taller, stronger, and better than the other plant life. If you can copy the design of the White Pine, then the production of food, especially in urban areas, could get boosted significantly.

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Healthy and cost-efficient are two words that don’t describe the market for healthy foods, (especially in cities). If a smaller, more condensed design could be implemented in an urban area, then the price for healthy food would go down. However, one problem with urban farms is that the plants would be very close to pollution; the space required would cost too much, and the plants may not photosynthesize fast enough to turn profits due to the cover made by tall buildings. Turning to nature will once again prove to be a wise decision as it wields a compact, fast, and year-round solution to urban farming. By bio-mimicking the White Pine tree, a building could be structured to function as a large glass tree. In colder climates, the glass would act as an insulated barrier, and heating inside the building would make the building have a greenhouse effect. Since the plants would be inside, no pollution can get into the plant. This means that healthy food could be grown all year and for a lot less. Just one small, (tree-shaped building), in a large city could help the health, mental health, and nutrition for many, many people.

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Greens Get a Boost Under the Lights of the Supermarket

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