What is the one thing we can do to make ourselves better at producing food locally?
The simple answer is to think “vertically.”
Most of us don’t have much land (space) to work with since we live in close proximity to other people.
This proximity comes with considerable benefits as long as it’s not too close. Benefits like security, collaboration, mutual action, local markets, diverse skill sets, wide knowledge base, low travel/transport costs, etc. Many of these benefits are going to be critical to our future success building a thriving resilient economy at the local level.
However, the big disadvantage with this configuration is that we don’t have much land/space to work with. We can’t just throw away land like those of us living in rural settings.
That means that we need to be smarter about how we utilize the space we have available. So, to maximize local production and fully utilize the limited land we have available, we need to think vertically.
What people don’t know is that most plants max-out their use of solar energy through photosynthesis in as little as three hours of direct light a day. Further, plants also have a photosynthetic rate, which limits how much they can absorb even when exposed to direct sun.
That means all of the additional light that falls of them is not only wasted, it could damage them.
How do you take advantage of that insight? Go vertical, particularly in the areas closest to where you live (for ease of gathering/use).
Permaculture techniques suggest layers of solar collection like you see in a forest. Forests are optimized to take advantage of solar energy through a combination of filtered sunlight and graduated solar coverage.
Another approach is to build structures that allow vertical gardening. We see lots of examples of this popping up today in impossibly dense modern urban environments.
Here’s a simple example of a pallet garden. For complete instructions, head on over to Fern’s “Life on the Balcony” for a step by step. These are getting pretty popular.
Here’s another from Kate Djupe. Visit her site for more pictures and instructions.
Hopefully, these give you a feel for how to think vertically.
I expect these designs will seem pretty tame in comparison to the intensively productive vertical food gardens we will be seeing in the years ahead, as thinking evolves.
Onward and Upward,