As of today the vast majority of food is grown, harvested, and processed far away from the people who eat it. All of this food has to be transported to consumers by methods that are expensive and harmful to the environment. The additional costs of transportation make fresh foods less affordable for those who live near or under the poverty line, forcing them to choose cheaper, unhealthier options. Having direct and local access to fresh foods can drastically lower the cost to the environment, strengthen the community, and lower the barrier to eating healthily and eating responsibly. We believe by making vertical farming hydroponic systems with Nike Grind materials we can help fresh foods be more accessible and be a part of a circular economy.
Vertical farming hydroponic systems are especially well-adapted for use in urbanized areas. They are extremely efficient and produce more food than soil-based gardens in a given amount of space. Plants can be grown pesticide-free and with only a fraction of the water used in conventional farming. Furthermore, hydroponic systems are versatile and can be tailored for use in a wide variety of situations. These systems can be implemented in cities, industrial settings, community gardens, and even places without access to electricity. Hydroponics allow for the maximum utilization of spaces within buildings and also provide the added benefit of introducing plants and greenery into the urban environment.
Our idea is to use Nike Grind materials to build modular hydroponic units that can be combined into different configurations that will appeal to hobbyists, architects, communities, industrial food producers, and any company or organization committed to sustainability and a self-sufficient society. We propose that this system be used on a small scale with individual units and a large scale with facilities made up of clusters of these units. Our design will use as many of the recycled materials as possible, and will provide healthy, locally grown food to communities.
Although we are in the early stages of development, we have an idea of what these units might look like, how they could function, and some dreams of where they could be headed. Provided here are some examples of how we envision this system being implemented and scaled beyond its initial stages.
More and more people are moving in cities, not only in America, but across the world. To ensure that cities have the resources and infrastructure to accommodate an influx in population, we must begin brainstorming, planning, and designing systems which increase agricultural efficiency and energy conservation. We believe our hydroponic units can play a role in this preparation.
By expanding our hydroponic unit’s footprint and depth we can create a urban tree planter. The planter would be filled with a large amount of Nike Grind material and water wicked or pumped from a reservoir system installed below the unit. These planters would take advantage of hydroponics’ low water and energy usage and allow greenery to be efficiently integrated into our cities.
Cities such as Singapore are already beginning to assimilate gardens into their architecture. But, unlike more northern cities, Singapore enjoys a year long growing season that allows their vertical farms to flourish. We hope to design a multifunctional hydroponic system that allows gardens to thrive during the growing months and takes on other uses as the days become shorter and the weather grows colder. Imagine a rooftop garden that for half the year is used by locals as a supplemental food source, then converted to additional rooftop insulation. To achieve this we would design our units to be foldable. While functioning as hydroponic units the growing beds would function as walled containers. During the colder months these containers would unfold, increase in area, and cover the roof with an additional layer of insulation.
Yet another potential application is use in a fast-growing industry: medical marijuana. States across America and countries around the world are legalizing the use of medical marijuana; because new uses for marijuana are constantly being discovered and prescription opiates are becoming an increasingly sinister agent of addiction, this trend is likely to continue. Medical marijuana is a nascent industry with many young and environmentally conscientious leaders. Because our units are highly modular, they could be configured to meet the requirements of both the horticulturist and the law. By offering a stacked arrangement we could increase the grower’s ability to raise plants despite limited access to space. Capital is flowing into this industry and we believe medical marijuana businesses could become one of our primary markets and sources of financial support.