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posted by martyb on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the Balconies-and-roofs dept.

Phys.org:

Urban farming has grown by more than 30 percent in the United States in the past 30 years. Although it has been estimated that urban agriculture can meet 15 to 20 percent of global food demand, it remains to be seen what level of food self-sufficiency it can realistically ensure for cities.

One recent survey found that 51 countries do not have enough urban area to meet a recommended nutritional target of 300 grams per person per day of fresh vegetables. Moreover, it estimated, urban agriculture would require 30 percent of the total urban area of those countries to meet global demand for vegetables. Land tenure issues and urban sprawl could make it hard to free up this much land for food production.

Is urban farming a pipe dream, or can appropriating vacant lots for traditional farming or employing hydroponics make it work?


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  • (Score: 2) by looorg on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:58PM (17 children)

    by looorg (578) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @08:58PM (#800729)

    What I am wondering is if there will be quantity and quality in it, will there be enough and will it be cheap or will this turn into some hipster diet where they can eat their locally produced crops and things made from it.

    You could probably always find room and space for it in the urban environment, there will always be run down buildings that can be converted or underground complexes that will be great for mushrooms etc. But I doubt you'll see them put up any new 50 floor buildings in the middle of Manhattan to grow carrots in it or whatever. That just goes against the whole thing since attractive spaces in the urban environment are not cheap so this, probably, only works if there are run down parts of town with old factories and such that can be easily converted.

    Will it be efficient enough or as noted will this just be for the urban hipsters will the rest of us keep eating food produced out in the countryside.

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  • (Score: 3, Disagree) by doke on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:35PM (11 children)

    by doke (6955) on Wednesday February 13 2019, @09:35PM (#800744)

    An urban mushroom facility would get shut down over complaints about the odor. The "mushroom compost" (ground up dirt, straw, and farm animal feces) needs to be sterilized before planting, or you get random other species of fungus mixed in. The sterilization is done by heating the dirt to about 100C for at least 30 minutes. This produces an intense, unpleasant odor. If you've ever been within 20 miles of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, USA, you will know that smell.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:52PM (6 children)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:52PM (#800790) Journal

      No. Feces is optional, other materials can be used. It certainly can be done:

      https://grocycle.com/how-to-set-up-a-low-tech-mushroom-farm/ [grocycle.com]

      The biggest problem is probably getting customers for your product, dealing with restaurants that don't pay you promptly, etc.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @01:10AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @01:10AM (#800811)

        The best substrate is coarsely ground grains. Bake for a few hours at low temp and it's good enough, cheap, and easy to source.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @06:02PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @06:02PM (#801068)

          From an urban grain field?
          Because if you depend on conventional farming to grow the materials to grow your urban mushrooms, you're not doing a thing to, um, "improve food security". (A curious euphemism for "prepare for Civil War 2.0: Rural vs. Urban.")

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Reziac on Thursday February 14 2019, @03:13AM (3 children)

        by Reziac (2489) on Thursday February 14 2019, @03:13AM (#800859) Homepage

        The other problem is that mushrooms may be tasty, but they have just about zero nutritional value.

        Every time I see one of these articles, I'm reminded that very few urbanites have any concept of the *scale* of the agriculture it takes to keep them fed. Their idea of farming is a backyard chicken and a potted plant, but food itself comes from the grocer by magic.

        --
        And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday February 14 2019, @03:57AM (2 children)

          by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday February 14 2019, @03:57AM (#800871) Journal

          People buy and eat mushrooms, so there could be value in growing them in a city. And it's probably the most practical option out of all of the things urban farming can produce.

          100 grams of mushrooms [google.com] has some potassium, fiber, and protein, some traces of vitamins, and some unproven compounds [nytimes.com]. I'd have no problem eating a pound of them every day, cooked or raw, and I can get it as cheap as around $1.20-$1.50/lb sometimes. 1 lb of white mushrooms would provide around 27% DV of protein, 40% DV of potassium, and 18% DV of fiber, in just 100 calories (based on Google link).

          We had a story about blending mushrooms with ground beef in hamburgers [soylentnews.org]. It's not something I've done (I don't eat a lot of beef), and it does lower the overall protein content, but the calorie reduction could be helpful and the taste combo [wikipedia.org] is good.

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    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:56PM (2 children)

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 13 2019, @11:56PM (#800792) Journal

      Sterilization can be archived by other means.

      E.g. hydrogen peroxide work for different substrate coffee ground [youtube.com], wood pellets [youtube.com], sawdust [jontrot.free.fr]

      Besides, one may think that sterile can be prepared outside city and delivered to the buyers still sterile packed.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:31AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:31AM (#800839)

        sterile can be prepared outside city and delivered to the buyers still sterile packed

        So rather than just ship the finished product in from the rural area, they'll ship the compost out of the city, treat it, then ship it back? mmmkay.

        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by c0lo on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:45AM

          by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:45AM (#800844) Journal

          So rather than just ship the finished product in from the rural area, they'll ship the compost out of the city, treat it, then ship it back? mmmkay.

          With the note that they don't need to send first any compost out of the city, why not?

          The value-proposition: you can keep the substrate sterile for long time (maybe without refrigeration) and always have your mushroom picked fresh and sold hours in paper bags in custom quantities hours after harvesting. Instead of after at least 3 days of transit through various (refrigerated) warehouses and plastic-wrapping them in predetermined quantities for the shelf.

          If the cost of evacuating the used compost is lower than the price of storage/packing the mushrooms on the way to the shelf, it may even be more economic to do so.

          --
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
    • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Thursday February 14 2019, @10:44AM

      by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Thursday February 14 2019, @10:44AM (#800943) Homepage Journal

      ... to the traditional method of sterilizing not just the substrate, but the entire interior of the Mushroom Shed.

      Back in the heady days of yore, the coast of California between Santa Cruz and San Francisco had lots of mushroom sheds, but there's only one left now, I think unused.

      My father told me that one would place buckets of sulfuric acid down the aisle in the middle between the beds. Is there a Chemist in the house? Can you see where I am going with this?

      Then you walk to the back of the shed with a bunch of paper sacks full of Potassium Ferrocyanide. Perhaps realization is dawning upon you sorry lot.

      Drop the sacks in the bucks as you run like Hell down the aisle, out the door, slam it shut then bolt it for a few days.

      That just had to rock to work as a mushroom farmer. Not.

      --
      Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by richtopia on Thursday February 14 2019, @12:41AM

    by richtopia (3160) on Thursday February 14 2019, @12:41AM (#800803) Homepage Journal

    I'm a gardener and follow an urban farmer on YouTube for inspiration. From what I've seen, many installations are actually suburban; taking advantage of back yards or vacant plots.

    I doubt these systems can replace all of the calories consumed by a city. However, they can be beneficial in other ways:
    1. Reduce transport costs by producing near consumption
    2. Reduce duration between harvest and consumption. This helps with nutritional content and spoilage
    3. Enable debt-free farming. Competing with factory farms is very difficult for new entrants to the industry. Urban farms typically are on borrowed/leased land with hand tools or small machinery reducing the capital investment

  • (Score: 1) by Gault.Drakkor on Thursday February 14 2019, @01:30AM (2 children)

    by Gault.Drakkor (1079) on Thursday February 14 2019, @01:30AM (#800822)

    What I am wondering is if there will be quantity and quality in it

    Quantity maybe, depends on how much automation and 3d stacking is done.

    Quality, potentially FAR higher.
    Many fruits and vegetables have a narrow window of best before.
    Can you imagine going and purchasing produce that was picked hours / minutes before you purchased it?

    Current industrial crops are being pushed to narrow ripeness windows so that crops can be harvested one shot. Many crops produce more if you do partial picking of what is currently ready. Robotic (or manual) pick on demand can increase quantity and quality.

    Many cultivars(tomatoes, mangoes, bananas) that are found in the stores are the ones that ship well. If you are growing locally you can grow the best tasting cultivars that don't ship because you are not shipping the produce. This could be a marketing thing for a urban farmer.

    There is definite potential for quality boosting with urban agriculture.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:33AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 14 2019, @02:33AM (#800840)

      Many fruits and vegetables have a narrow window of best before. Can you imagine going and purchasing produce that was picked hours / minutes before you purchased it?

      Sounds great, except you then can only get the produce that was just picked.

      Today's dinner: rhubarb, with a side of rhubarb and rhubarb pie for dessert!

    • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Thursday February 14 2019, @10:47AM

      by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Thursday February 14 2019, @10:47AM (#800946) Homepage Journal

      but not at all in California.

      The grocery stores here have all manner of apples that I've never seen anywhere else.

      --
      Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
  • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Thursday February 14 2019, @10:37AM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Thursday February 14 2019, @10:37AM (#800942) Homepage Journal

    -ms.

    Just pick up a Loompanix book.

    --
    Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]