American cities like Newark New Jersey are a long way from Abu Dhabi or Cairo; but vertical farming concepts now being planned for American cities, are also being considered for locations in the Middle East as well. In a recent published article in Treehugger, giant pyramid shaped structures, as well as specially designed skyscrapers will produce large amounts of vegetables and other agricultural produce by means of soil-less hydroponics. Hydroponics has been in use for years, especially in green or hot house agriculture. But the idea of conserving space by integrating this concept into tall, vertical structures to save space is still relatively new.
The innovative vertical farm plans stem from two visionary vertical farming innovators, Dr. Dickson Despommier and Weber Thompson; and the Weber Thompson Architectural Firm is designing these structures. The main idea of architectural building concepts by Weber Thompson is to enable the use of vertical farming in densely populated urban areas. The concepts allow the maximum use of solar energy:
“to grow food in a climate-controlled multistory building free of pollutants, pesticides and seasons while producing the highest-quality produce in an urban environment.”
The climate (and rainfall) of areas like Newark New Jersey is a bit different from the climate in the Persian Gulf region, and other desert locations in the Middle East; but in regions like the UAE, where Dr. Despommier’s vertical farming concepts are being studied with great interest, it may not be long before futuristic looking vertical farms will be common place in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City, now being built, is already hailed as the world’s first completely non-carbon residential and commercial project. In this much heralded “carbon free” project, futuristic designed vertical farming towers are part of the project’s unique planning models.
The Hanging Gardens: Alexander The Great loved the place
The idea of vertical farming concepts is actually very ancient, and goes all the way back to the 5th Century BCE, when Babylonia’s “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” were hailed as one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World.
Constructed during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar II, who reigned for 43 years, beginning in 605 BCE, the gardens, some of which reached a height of as much as 320 feet high, were described by Greek Historian Diodorus as constructed with:
“A covering with sheets of lead, that the wet which drenched through the earth might not rot the foundation. Upon all these was laid earth of a convenient depth, sufficient for the growth of the greatest trees. When the soil was laid even and smooth, it was planted with all sorts of trees, which both for greatness and beauty might delight the spectators.”
While these beautiful gardens were not actually suspended, they were called the “hanging gardens” due to the greenery of the many plants and trees hanging over walls; thus giving the gardens its name. Bringing water from the Euphrates River to the top of the gardens was an engineering feat still marveled to this day, and was described by the green geographer Strabo as done by “water engines (large buckets connected to chains and pulleys), by means of which persons, appointed expressly for the purpose, are continually employed in raising water from the Euphrates into the garden.”
The “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” have long since faded into history; but the vertical farming concept they created is now being sought after as a means of not only growing food crops, but for the creation of urban beauty as well, And no better place for such projects than the part of the world where the idea began, more than 2,500 years ago.
Read more on vertical farming:
Hanging Gardens of Babylon Prove Vertical Farming Concepts are not New
Vertical Farms May be Only Crop Solution in Middle East
Vertical Farms in Masdar City are Soil-less Crop Solution