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posted by CoolHand on Friday November 04 2016, @08:51PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the hydroponics-not-just-for-growing-ganja dept.

The landscape is virtually treeless around a coastal hub town above Alaska's Arctic Circle, where even summer temperatures are too cold for northern-growing forests to take root.

Amid these unforgiving conditions, a creative kind of farming is sprouting up in the largely Inupiat community of Kotzebue.

A subsidiary of a local Native corporation is using hydroponics technology to grow produce inside an insulated, 40-foot shipping container equipped with glowing magenta LED lights. Arctic Greens is harvesting kale, various lettuces, basil and other greens weekly from the soil-free system and selling them at the supermarket in the community of nearly 3,300.

"We're learning," Will Anderson, president of the Native Kikiktagruk Inupiat Corp., said of the business launched last spring. "We're not a farming culture."

The venture is first of its kind north of the Arctic Circle, according to the manufacturer of Kotzebue's pesticide-free system. The goal is to set up similar systems in partnerships with other rural communities far from Alaska's minimal road system—where steeply priced vegetables can be more than a week in transit and past their prime by the time they arrive at local stores.


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  • (Score: 1) by webhiker on Friday November 04 2016, @09:31PM

    by webhiker (497) on Friday November 04 2016, @09:31PM (#422635)

    Why must humans live here? We spend so much on resources making inhospitable places habitable. Just go somewhere nice and leave some wilderness to the animals.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JNCF on Friday November 04 2016, @09:42PM

      by JNCF (4317) on Friday November 04 2016, @09:42PM (#422638) Journal

      Are you against the concept of interplanetary civilizations? If so, you would damn us to a relatively quick extinction. If not, the inhospitable edges of the world seem like a good testing ground for the sorts of technology we'd need for an independant Martian village. There are other reasons, of course. Some folks get sentimental about ancestral land. I'm not, but then, I'm a USAmerican of largely European descent; I do not live on the land of my ancestors, and I never have.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Friday November 04 2016, @10:00PM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Friday November 04 2016, @10:00PM (#422643) Journal

      What waste of resources? These systems have the potential to be very efficient. They can be combined with fish farming. They use less land and could be stacked. They need less energy to ship produce to the local residents.

      In the future, energy costs can be brought down with some mix of natural gas, solar, wind, and eventually down to 0.1 cents per kilowatt hour with fusion, making it affordable to put these systems anywhere short of the Moon and Mars.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by schad on Friday November 04 2016, @11:07PM

      by schad (2398) on Friday November 04 2016, @11:07PM (#422666)

      We're well past the point where we can support our population without spending resources making places more habitable. Whether that means hydroponics in the Arctic, rice farming in the desert, or fertilizing the flyover states, our days of living off the land's bounty are gone -- and have been, by the way, pretty much since the invention of agriculture.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Phoenix666 on Saturday November 05 2016, @12:24AM

        by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Saturday November 05 2016, @12:24AM (#422690) Journal

        We are nowhere near that desperate that we really have to do hydroponics in the arctic and such. It's not like we lack land to grow stuff on. Heck, you could feed another entire America if you really put the southeast of Utah under cultivation. The United States is very, very large and there are huge tracts of land that are quite empty. If we used terraces the way they do in, say, Bali, we could feed China with what we could grow in Colorado. Most people in southeastern Utah and Colorado would not enjoy the population densities of China or Bali, but it could be done.

        It also doesn't seem accurate to assert that 'our days of living off the land's bounty are gone,' simply by virtue of how much we still waste. We waste mountains more than we need. When the stuff going into landfills shrinks to zero because nobody can afford to waste it or need to immediately re-use it, then it would be appropriate to say that the days of plenty are over.

        It is great that those guys in the Arctic are growing their own veg locally that way, and a great many other people who live in cities and suburbs should also grow their own either in their yards or in similar hydroponics setups because it will taste far better, and be far better for them, than produce that is picked weeks before it's ripe and shipped halfway round the world. It's good to grow rice in the desert because doing that sort of thing can moderate the local climate; a good buddy of mine spent time in the Peace Corps trying to do that to prevent desertification in the Sahel. But human civilization doesn't need to do that yet.

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
        • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Saturday November 05 2016, @02:28AM

          by mhajicek (51) on Saturday November 05 2016, @02:28AM (#422720)

          Most farmland uses resources imported from elsewhere. Few locations are entirely self sufficient.

          Since people tend to pay for the resources they use, then if this is economically viable then by definition it's efficient enough, unless of course it's heavily subsidized.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by moondoctor on Friday November 04 2016, @11:11PM

      by moondoctor (2963) on Friday November 04 2016, @11:11PM (#422669)

      In case you're not trolling. That's where those people have lived thousands of years. Why should they leave because you don't get it? They lived there utilising resources in an amazingly efficient manner that whole time. We can probably learn from them.

      Produce in the winter is a recent thing, and getting that fresh is amazing. If it uses less energy overall to just grow it up there and the produce is better, how is this a bad thing? Sounds like real and good progress for technology and society.

      [Also, if you don't get why wilderness is important for a healthy society check out Bob Marshall. Proper American hero]

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Azuma Hazuki on Friday November 04 2016, @09:32PM

    by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Friday November 04 2016, @09:32PM (#422636) Journal

    GOOD. We need more of this, everywhere, for the common people like you and me. Anything that lowers the barrier to entry for healthy food, especially in marginal areas, is something we should be pouring energy and time and money into.

    --
    I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
    • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Saturday November 05 2016, @02:40AM

      by mhajicek (51) on Saturday November 05 2016, @02:40AM (#422722)

      If you want to practice, just play Rimworld.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Friday November 04 2016, @10:14PM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Friday November 04 2016, @10:14PM (#422649) Homepage Journal

    Just one: typically she would get an orange.

    She grew up in a remote part of Newfoundland.

    (Well, now she's my ex-mother-in-law.)

    --
    Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Gaaark on Friday November 04 2016, @10:33PM

      by Gaaark (41) on Friday November 04 2016, @10:33PM (#422654) Journal

      My mother-in-law as well: an orange and a handmade doll.

      --
      --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
      • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 04 2016, @10:40PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 04 2016, @10:40PM (#422657)

        Luxury. When I were growing up, we dreamed of hands.

        • (Score: 2) by JNCF on Friday November 04 2016, @11:45PM

          by JNCF (4317) on Friday November 04 2016, @11:45PM (#422681) Journal

          Extravagence! When I was growing up, we would have traded an arm and a leg to dream.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 05 2016, @12:04AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 05 2016, @12:04AM (#422687)

            IOW you would have dearmed to dream.

            • (Score: 2) by JNCF on Saturday November 05 2016, @12:30AM

              by JNCF (4317) on Saturday November 05 2016, @12:30AM (#422693) Journal

              No-no, we lacked the mere conception of dreaming, and we certainly weren't dreaming of dreaming. But if somebody suggested the trade, we would have taken it; what good are arms and legs without hands and feet, anyway?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 04 2016, @11:43PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 04 2016, @11:43PM (#422679)

    These guys have always had amazing burgers [acburger.com], but the lettuce and other fresh veggies have always been lacking.
    I guess next time I'm out that way I'll give them another try.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 05 2016, @01:17AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 05 2016, @01:17AM (#422700)

    "and other greens"

    And we all know what THAT means!