Vision & Strategy

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  • Agriculture needs innovation to resolve the rapidly emerging challenges it faces e.g. chemicals and pesticides are ruining our soil and water in rivers and underground supply. Health trends and the adverse carbon footprint of large/distant farms are pitting consumers against conventional farming.  The health of people and our planet earth are increasingly the focus of society.
  • Innovation must address these issues and this inevitably attracts small urban farmers to supply organically produced foods…a tendency that is becoming pronounced. However , small farmers by definition cannot produce the volumes of crops/foods that are demanded by rapidly expanding city populations. Urban farmland is too confined in size and too limited in availability as it competes unfavourably with housing and non-agricultural business sprawl.
  • Cities have always resolved their space problems by reaching upwards…pointing quite naturally towards a solution for urban agriculture : we must grow vertically.
  • The skills and inclination of small farmers to grow healthier food, which is environmentally friendly as well , must be made sustainable by increasing their capacity to grow vast volumes of produce, adjacent to the large market demand that currently exists.
  • A popular movement that is emerging , favouring vertical farming , that should be encouraged. But the innovations that are emerging should avoid obvious pitfalls. The forces that appear to be driving this ‘new farming’ are seemingly not really farming-wise. The interest appears to be more about a market investment driven opportunity that is ROI focused rather than solving the grass roots problems. These stated problems should be addressed by farmers with farming expertise…and , in particular ,organic farming expertise.
  • Surfing the net will confirm that the vast majority of these ideas are incredibly expensive, beyond the reach of most of the existing small farmers…and it is they who will provide the energy and productivity needed to ensure that improved growing systems are ‘devoid of the poisons we wish to eliminate; to solve the planetary ills that prevail.
  • The other tendency is for investor driven projects to take short-cuts. The web will confirm that water borne nutrient in pipe systems is easy to formulate and inadequately feeds plants off chemical nutrients. This is simply reverting back to old , failed systems where both human and environment will continue to be subjected to man-made chemicals, nitrates in particular.
  • The solution will always require a natural approach. And nature accordingly demands soil , allowing the mysterious plant-nutrient interaction to take place through the soil. Agricultural scientists can only pretend to emulate nature….taste and nutrient values providing for our health in a plant will always depend on the micro-nutrients in the best soils. And only the plant knows how to extract the exact amounts from the rhizosphere/root space ,through root hairs of plants. It cannot adequately be done by the persistent boost-fed hydroponics that is so convenient. The colour alone of hydroponically fed plants should signal the over supply of nitrates which damage our waters and environment.
  • In brief : we need small farmers to grow organically in soil and vertically on small tracts of land adjacent to cities. And systems must be affordable and sustainable. That means that such vertical organic systems must have enhanced capacity to produce large volumes of food.
  • These prescriptions of affordability ,sustainability and planet/human healthy methods , have already been met . Trials have been on-going for many years. What is now necessary is to establish a network to support small farmers. ASSOCIATES AND INSTITUTIONS must be invited to participate in research and practice to convey the readily available proof of performance of these on-going trials. What is envisaged is that Agricultural Universities and invited ‘organisers…called Associates’ , should be motivated to grow crops that are in popular demand. This will provide the regional evidence and know-how that will thereafter expand exponentially into the targeted cities through the competence and caring of small farmers.  Associates would then establish the small farmer support base that ensures that marketing-distribution takes place cost effectively. Those who so wish could combine under a common brand to ensure that mass marketing to major chain stores is not beyond their capability.