This modular vertical farm could sweep away 'urban food deserts'

The first designs show 'Glasir' trees erected in Brooklyn
The first designs show 'Glasir' trees erected in Brooklyn Copyright Glasir
By Doloresz Katanich
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Securing affordable and healthy food for low-income communities is increasingly challenging, but urban farming could be the solution.


Creative agency Framlab is tackling the problem of 'urban food deserts' with their conceptual Glasir project.

This group of modular vertical farms provides low-income neighbourhoods with access to fresh produce.

The greenhouse-like cubes were designed to be built anywhere in the city where there is room for a regular tree. Glasir works on renewable energy and rainwater and even cleans the air using an outer layer on the greenhouse modules.

Architect Andreas Tjeldflaat tells Euronews Green that his ambition was "to confront environmental harm and social inequality within our food systems" when working on this project.

"Food production today contributes to somewhere around 20 to 35 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions, and they require 70 per cent of the annual water withdrawals globally", says the architect.

To reduce the amount of water it uses, the self-regulating system in his design uses aeroponics. This creates a misty environment where crops need no soil but can grow and absorb nutrients in a faster and more effective way than in traditional farming.

"This allows us to reduce water usage and land arrow requirements by about 90 per cent," explains Tjeldflaat.

What is a food desert?

Food deserts can usually be found in low-income neighbourhoods where local people have limited access to affordable and nutritious food because of the lack of big supermarkets and fresh food suppliers.

Processed food high in sugar and fats is often still available in large quantities, however.

"In the US, one in 10 households experiences food insecurity annually. And it's estimated that this number actually is closer to one and four, due to the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic," says Tjeldflaat.

"There's a lot of focus on vertical farming these days, but those are typically located in areas outside of the cities.

"So the answer with this project is to kind of bypass those requirements and find ways to really implement solutions within the neighbourhood," says the architect.

Watch the interview withAndreasTjeldflaat about this self-regulating urban farm made for communities.

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