Our vision is to help foster the City that Feeds Itself™.
Technology has come a long way in the past fifty years. It has brought us to the point that we no longer need to depend on rural farmers to feed our cities and suburbs.
In fact,the World Health Organization suggests that 70% of the world’s population will live in urban locations by 2050! This increase in urban demand will cause further stress to our farmers’ production capabilities as well as diminishing already fleeting farm land as a result of urban sprawl.
We’d like to tackle this issue head on by bring the solution where it’s needed: the city. We intend to showcase that it is entirely possible to grow food in a city. In fact, cities can actually grow most, if not all, of their produce needs. In doing so, we are hoping to develop a new wave of farmers. We aim to set them on the mission to create a food sustainable world; feeding their communities, families and selves. With enough buy-in and creative use of resources, we believe that cities will be able to feed their residents and relieve the stress and burdens they place on our rural farmers. Thus creating the City that Feeds Itself™.
It’s An Amazing Time To Be Alive
It really is an amazing time to be alive. Technology advances every day at an ever increasing pace and so does our human consciousness. Today, folks are willing to speak their values with their dollars. Some of us are willing to pay higher prices for goods that come from an ethical business. The result, a rise in social enterprise and benefit corporations dedicated to the triple bottom line. Technology is meeting these inspired, passionate entrepreneurs to change the world in ways we can hardly imagine. They see the world’s biggest problems as the world’s biggest opportunities: manned trips to Mars, human life extension, sustainable cities, and smart agriculture.
We are on the verge of Food 4.0. A global movement is happening all around us. However, before we talk about where we are today, first a few words about where we’ve come from.
In the early days of our species, we were hunters and gatherers, foraging for seeds and berries and hunting for wild meat. This was the least food secure state humanity has ever faced. The hundreds of thousands of years we stayed in this state made a lasting effect on every facet of what it means to be human. Our very DNA is encoded the way it is because of our unknown ancestors. This period lasted so long because of the food insecurity. The human race had a difficult time accumulating knowledge, expanding existing settlements, and other long term activities typically associated with civilizations. With so much time dedicated to finding and preserving food there was little time to devote to creative activities such as developing new technologies. If it wasn’t an activity that helped get food, cook food or store food it wasn’t a priority for these early ancestors.
The earliest advances beyond this humble beginning came in the form of agroforestry, or selectively culling a forest environment to remove dangerous plants and promote food-yielding plants. Each family would tend their own garden and slowly cultivate the most favorable plants to their family’s survival. Then between 10,000 and 13,000 years ago, there was the transition to what is known as the Neolithic period.
Humans began to domesticate animals, cultivate cereal crops like grains, and populations began to swell. Thus began the original transition from Food 0.0 to Food 1.0 and so began the long climb to the next transition point.
We did not transition towards Food 2.0 until as recently as the early 1900s. Chemical innovations like the Haber Process allowed cheap ammonia to be produced industrially. This effectively created the agricultural chemical fertilizer industry and thus began the shift from manure based fertilization to chemical based fertilization. Also during this time relatively modern methods of commercial fishing with steam and gas powered ships increased our fish harvests. During this period, we saw significant increases in our production. Now we could grow food in places previously unavailable to us.
Some might vilify chemical based fertilizers today for their known long term effects on soil and health. There are plenty of downsides, that is becoming moare and more apparent. However, we think we ought to acknowledge that they did propel us to where we are today. The increased food allowed us to thrive, move into cities, and focus less on farming. Instead we focused more on industrialization and the advancement of our species. Today, we can use the experience to create smarter solutions with a more holistic approach. One that doesn’t diminish our resources and focuses on increasing our ability to grow food without harming ourselves or our soils.
We transitioned to Food 3.0 roughly halfway through the 20th century. During this time we saw the development of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in the 50s for chicken, 70s for beef, and 80s for pork. “In 1966, it took one million farms to house 57 million pigs; by the year 2001, it only took 80,000 farms to house the same number of pigs.” Likewise, as fish harvests dwindled due to over-fishing, aquaculture really started to take off in the late 1980s. In fact, during this time period we see the first developments of aquaponics, although its roots date back all the way to 1627 with Sir Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum.
Now, merely 30 years later, we are entering the Food 4.0 revolution. Old ways of thinking now subside in favor of the sustainable ideals of biomimicry, systems thinking, and natural capitalism. Therefore, we are seeing a dramatic shift towards integrated and closed-loop food systems. These systems and designs are gaining traction and attention because they yield high value at a fraction of the cost of old technologies and in a fraction of the space. This revolution is truly an opportunity for us all.
Aquaponics, smart farms, distributed farming: these are the technologies empowering a new wave of farmers to create the self-sufficient communities of tomorrow. No longer are we reliant on just soil and land to farm on a large scale. We are seeing farms pop up in urban areas: on rooftops, in warehouses, in basements, and on the side of building walls. If it has electricity or sun and access to water it can be a food production center. We are right on the cusp of the next evolution for humanity. Where cities can not only contribute to their food intake, but are actually taking the steps needed to feed themselves.
What are you doing to take part in it? For us, we are actively trying to foster the City that Feeds Itself™ in Meriden,CT. We are using our efforts and success to create incentives for others to start growing themselves, to make it easy for them by showcasing our process and raising awareness through education, seminars, showcases, and press releases. If you’d like to learn how you can help contact us, or join our email list for more inspiration.