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The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  347 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
"The vertical farm is a world-changing innovation whose time has come. Dickson Despommier's visionary book provides a blueprint for securing the world's food supply and at the same time solving one of the gravest environmental crises facing us today."--Sting

Imagine a world where every town has their own local food source, grown in the safest way possible, where no drop of
ebook, 320 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Thomas Dunne Books
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(showing 1-30 of 1,018)
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Rachel Bayles
Interesting overview of the idea. One or two really outstanding facts, but in general the writing could be tighter. It's still worth reading, but it's more like reading an extended Wired article than a book.
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Apr 02, 2016 Jay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, futurology
I started off greatly disappointed with this book. I expected from the title that the book would cover vertical farming in urban areas in some depth. I had recently attended a talk by the folks growing vegetables on the roof of McCormick Place in Chicago, and had seen multiple TED talks on urban farming, so understood some of the issues and possible solutions. Imagine my surprise in reading the entire first half or two thirds of the book and finding it was all a highly opinionated history of agr ...more
Nov 10, 2011 Rich rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extremely enthusiastic author (you can see why he would make an excellent teacher) speaking at length on a fascinating topic. So it's not surprisingly (if a little disappointing) that the incredibly optimistic, glowing report of vertical farming in this book make the results and conclusions a little hard to swallow.

Maybe the author believes that most people won't read the book cover to cover, because he repeats himself frequently, using the same examples or nifty facts in several parts of the
Oct 21, 2010 Molly rated it really liked it
This book surprised me - I was prepared for a slog through details in the economics of farming, global trade or some such thing, but it's a lively summary of the history of agriculture and how we got to where we are now - having stripped the world of much of its natural resources and so that we can eat tomatoes in December. We started farming 10,000 years ago or so, Neanderthals didn't do it - and so why did we? Find out how agriculture played into - among other things - the evolution of writing ...more
Jun 02, 2011 Ben rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: architecture
This book had some really interesting ideas but needed a little more focus. The author started out with the city as a ecosystem idea, which is interesting, but I'm not sure why he kept bringing up burning human waste. It has nothing to do with the vertical farm and he admits that it sends up a little pollution.

The author obviously feel very strongly for the vertical farm but let's be realistic. I doubt a couple of vertical farms would end the conflict in the middle east. Also, the idea of return
Mark Brady
Idealistic, clearly outlines why this would be awesome, doesn't get very into the practicalities. Read it if you want to be inspired to learn more but I got all I got out of it from the first 150 pages
Stephen Muskett
I enjoyed this book but I felt it could have been turned into a 15-20 page article. The author repeats points and can be vague in his argument at times. Overall, very informative and I would love to see some prototypes built in the coming years. Maybe we should start with an urban greenhouse movement first though.
Mar 20, 2015 Lucas rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I would have rated it higher but there is only about 10% of this book that is about vertical farms. The rest of is about the need for them, and worthwhile but somewhat unrelated stuff that could be done at the same time we're building vertical farms.

The only real number is the 90% reduction in required water, which is great given all the droughts. What about land area? How many acres x floors required to feed 1 person, a million people? How far should the farms be located from an urban center t
Aug 29, 2011 Vince rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not bad at all. The author lists the benefits and they are many but neglects the pitfalls. High startup costs and the social dislocation as farmers go broke and the banks that lent them the money for their land go under etc. Also he would have made a better case in 2011 by stating more of the benefits than the enviornmental ones. Making food safe from terrorism and disease should have been emphasized more. Best book yet on the subject.
Sagar Jethani
Jun 24, 2015 Sagar Jethani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tech, science
A creative solution to one of the most damaging activities on the planet: contemporary farming. Vertical farming eliminates nearly all of the problems involved in agricultural production, including fertilizer runoff, pesticide use, the vagaries of uncertain weather conditions, and the burning of fossil fuels in transporting food products from the countryside to the cities where they are consumed.

By growing produce in a controlled, closed environment using advanced industrial control systems, ver
Sep 10, 2014 Elaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century suggests a solution for urban agriculture that is sustainable and practical. Currently, there is a need for new farming methods in an unpredictable climatic world. Present farming practices can be devastating to the environment-consider agrochemical runoff (responsible for more ecosystem disruption than any other single kind of pollution), deforestation, fossil fuels (more than 20% of all burned fuels is contributed to farming), and clean ...more
Dec 04, 2015 Hayley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, but like others have said, it reads more like a longish article internet article and a launch point for further studies. He is an effective communicator of science for the layperson, without being boring or oversimplifying, so I'd recommend it for the IFL science crowd. As a dedicated listener of the Twix podcasts, I am more familiar with him as a parasitologist, so I think I was hoping for a little more microbiological tangents. It was definitely worth picking up, though. W ...more
Feb 02, 2015 Brent rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research
This book is a longer treatment of an essay in which Despommier promotes the concept of using vertical farms to replace conventional agricultural efforts. The ideas are provoking and his arguments are persuasive, but this book is stuffed with a lot of material that distracted me more often than not. Unless you're curious about the history of agriculture or the exact numbers behind the inefficiencies of our current food production systems, it's probably easier to visit Despommier's website to get ...more
Gotta be good, blurb from Sting :9
I wonder what Wendell Berry would think about this one.

UpDate. And I still wonder what he would think about this one because all of Berry's thought is based on the care of humans of the land. Despommier wants to remove the land from farming and replace it with five story buildings full of hydroponic agriculture beds. The ideas in the book are intriguing and may be the solution to some very intractable environmental and agricultural problems. The entire book is completely hypothetical as not one
Oct 20, 2011 Ben rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is no doubt that Despommier is a trailblazer. While he's not the first to come up with the stacking greenhouse concept, he's the first to further the thought experiment in the modern age when we have better solutions for things like water recovery, waste management, civil engineering, sky scrapers, plastics, etc.
However, I was expecting more science and less emotion going into this book. The first 150 pages are supposed to convince you that the vertical farm idea is necessary. The last 75
Mar 29, 2013 Richard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up before starting work on a vertical growing system. It was a fairly interesting read and a good introduction to newcomers of the many challenges faced by those working within agriculture.

However, it stays more towards the social science side of things, with little in the way of hard evidence of the genuine possibilities (other than Despommier's own ideas) and application of vertical farming; prototype vertical farms are mentioned, but with 'prototype' being the key word.
Feb 20, 2011 Alexis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
The idea of a vertical farm is a great idea for urban agriculture. Basically, vertical farms are buildings which house green houses and create a close system, using waste water and such to grow food for city dwellers.

Unfortunately, the idea of a vertical farm is still in the planning stage and there hasn't been one created yet.

The author of this book is a prof, and this really comes across. I enjoyed some of the ideas in this book and it's obvious that the prof knows a lot about ecology and des
Carolyn  Holland
Aug 23, 2013 Carolyn Holland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research
I applaud Dr. Despommier for the insight-fulness of this book ! I believe that it can and should be considered an invaluable starting point for solutions for our food security issues.
There has been a lot of scrutiny over this concept, particularly in regard to start-up and operational costs however, as with any great idea, there are challenges.
I found this book to be inspiring, it offers me some hope for the future of my family, the generations who will be here long after I am gone, the memb
Mjlibrary NDSCS
Cataloging in process
It is a scary thought that most big cities have a food supply of fewer than 2 days in the event of disasters which prevent the delivery of fresh food to the grocery shelves. Large cities cannot grow their own as they are set up at present. Despommier is a Columbia University professor who decided to see what could be done to develop urban agriculture. Basically the idea is to grow food in tall buildings using the sciences of hydroponics, aeroponics, engineering, and more. Ma
Aug 17, 2011 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The current method of human agriculture is in bad shape, and is ultimately unsustainable. This book provides an alternative.

Agriculture as we know it has worked for many thousands of years, but the system is breaking down. If there is such a thing as The Chronicle of Farm Life in the 20th Century, it is "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck. Three things that had a huge impact on agriculture were the internal combustion engine, and the discoveries of oil and dynamite. When irrigating fields, r
Jim Johnson
This book discussed ideas that were theoretical but I would have liked to see more practicality. Although the topic is extremely important and potentially life-saving, discussing theories is not where we need to be right now. I understand the author probably hopes this book will inspire people to make prototypes but perhaps he would be better off designing and implementing smaller models of the vertical farm and then scaling it up to a level that is viable to support towns and cities.
Annie Oosterwyk
This book contains an excellent historical analysis of the world's food supply and distribution. It is a quick and informative read with a positive and hopeful message for the future. Although at printing these ideas were not yet implemented, the potential for vertical farming outlined in this book is truly exciting. There is discussion of various building materials and the latest in hydroponic and aeroponic technology.
Brendan N.
Despommier is full of potentially world-changing ideas, but those ideas are incredibly embryonic. This is an important book, just not terribly well-written or organized. Despommier spends half his time delving into the history of agriculture before finally discussing the various components of the vertical farm. Granted, the former is quite relevant to the latter, but "The Vertical Farm" could have benefited from more editing and concision. Despite its flaws, "The Vertical Farm" is at varying tim ...more
Alvin C.
May 18, 2014 Alvin C. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a fantastic idea to use buildings in every town to grow smaller vegs such as lettuce and beans indoors using 90% less water, controlling insects, needing no pesticides, OR shipping across the country. Then we can plant trees again in areas formerly farmed, and scrub CO2 out of the air. The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century will tell you how and why!
Jan 13, 2011 Hans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Books like this get me really excited until after I finish them, my enthusiasm fades realizing how unlikely we are to actually carry out such a great idea. Curse reality, it has a way of spoiling all the fun of dreaming. Because that is what this book is, a dream, a visionary solution to several of the global communities pressing problems, especially agriculture.

The author lays out a sound argument in favor of these essentially urban-greenhouse-skyscrapers. I doubt any one will actually disagre
Wade Johannes
While I appreciate the concept, the author's understanding of farming comes from textbooks and The Grapes of Wrath. The theory has merit, but the author is close to unbearable. Next time I suggest that the author steps foot on a real life farm before commenting on the state of the industry.
Jan 29, 2016 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is the ebulent description of a theory, while I can get behind the ideas in this book, I recognize that it seems overly optimistic. I hope vertical farms do appear in urban landscapes, but do not agree that they are the one solution to all earths ills.

Leroy Gilbert
Aug 07, 2015 Leroy Gilbert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inspiring and truly motivating if you, like me is interested in the preservation of our planet in the midst of the growing world population and the inevitable food crisis that will come with it.
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Dr. Dickson D. Despommier is a professor of Public Health and Microbiolgy at Columbia University (NY).
More about Dickson D. Despommier...

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