Until I moved to Chicago, I did not know what a food desert was. Living in Vermont, where all our grocery stores and other necessities are miles away, it was a new concept for me. For those who are not familiar, food deserts occur when there are few or no options to get healthy, quality foods from a grocery store within a convenient traveling distance. In a report by the Illinois Advisory Committee to the United States Commissions on Civil Rights, they make the point that “these food desert neighborhoods are almost exclusively African American neighborhoods.” This creates more than a public health issue as it has strong civil rights issues present as well. The committee also recognizes that adding grocery stores is not an effective solution to the problem. However, vertical farming may be a viable platform.
Vertical farming is an innovative way to bring fresh vegetables and fruits to urban communities. This style of farming can be designed with many variations but they’re all units in which plants grow one on top of the other, going upward and consuming less land space. To incorporate the idea of vertical farming into these communities would be no small feat. It would have to begin at a community level. To introduce the idea, it would be best to have a public forum to determine where these farms could be located. It would have to be a community building in that neighborhood. From there, it would be best to bring in agricultural groups willing to volunteer and educate. There has to be an emphasis on the importance of vertical farming as a method to alleviate the issues of living in a food desert. This is something that would have to be tested on a small scale to see if the community can work effectively to grow crops. The Illinois Advisory Committee also discussed how simply building grocery stores is not enough. The groceries have to be affordable but also healthy. Overall, vertical farming is a good first step towards easing the constraints of families living in food deserts.
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Architects, T.K.W. (no date) The Kubala Washatko architects, Inc. Available at: http://www.tkwa.com/growing-power-vertical-farm/ (Accessed: 6 October 2016).
FOOD DESERTS IN CHICAGO A report of the Illinois advisory committee to the United States commission on civil rights (2011) Available at: http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/IL-FoodDeserts-2011.pdf (Accessed: 6 October 2016).
Davis, N. (2014) Vertical farming explained: How cities could be food producers of the future. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/feb/06/vertical-farming-explained-erik-murchie (Accessed: 6 October 2016).