Dickson DespommierFounder, Vertical Farming Project
“Vertical farming will free the world from having to worry about where our next meal will come from,” says Dickson Despommier, founder of the Vertical Farming Project.
Despommier has always been interested in the ecological process and the damage we have caused to the environment by encroachment. His idea is as simple as it is radical: strive to replace traditional, horizontal farming with vertical greenhouses that can produce anything from grain crops and vegetables, to poultry, pork and fish.
These agricultural skyscrapers should be built in the heart of the world’s urban centers. If successfully implemented, they offer the promise of urban renewal, sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply through year-round crop production, as well as the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming. Vertical farming is the answer to population growth and the demographic shift towards urban centers.
To date, there are vertical farms up and running in Japan, Korea, Singapore, and the US, with many more in various stages of planning. He believes that vertical farming will become commonplace throughout the built environment on a global scale within the next 5-10 years.
Despommier was born in New Orleans and grew up in California before moving to New York. He has a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Notre Dame. For 28 years, he has conducted laboratory-based biomedical research at Columbia University. He is an Emeritus Professor at Columbia University and Adjunct Professor at Fordham University. Despommier was elected Best Teacher of the Year 8 times at Columbia University Medical School, and in 2003, he won the national American Medical Student Golden Apple Award for Teaching Excellence. He has authored five books, written over 70 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and numerous published review articles on a wide variety of scientific subjects. He has lectured on the concept of vertical farming at universities and museums, to city governments and federal government agencies as well as the UN, IMF, and international conferences. He occasionally blogs for the Huffington Post, and has been featured in Time Magazine, The New York Times, The Bloomberg Businessweek Report, Fast Company, Tree Hugger, The Economist, The Guardian, and numerous radio, TV, and newspaper interviews.