New technologies allow sustainable farming in the Arctic
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
In "The Martian," Matt Damon showed us how we can grow food even when stranded on the frigid surface of Mars. Back on Earth, this method has been successfully proven by eco-chef and foodie Benjamin L. Vidmar.
The small Arctic town of Longyearbyen is known for its spectacular Northern Lights. But now it is making news for the successful implementation of "polar permaculture" that Vidmar introduced here (which also happens to be the name of his company, Polar Permaculture).
For a long time, the town had to pay a hefty price to procure all its food and produce from outside. All that has now changed with the use of modern technologies like polar permaculture, which makes use of hydroponic systems, insulated greenhouses and compost-warmed geodesic domes.
They are also using the waste from the island to produce biogas and grow their food. The design keeps in mind the fragile ecosystem of the North Pole and ensures that the environment is well-protected. This shows how technology is changing the world of fresh produce and creating regional food security.
This emerging technology can grow fresh food even in the coldest and darkest regions on Earth. Scientists are hopeful that they can soon grow fresh food in an arid desert throughout the year.
Permaculture design techniques are inspired by nature. They have the potential to turn a simple garden into an ultraproductive food source. This could be a game-changer for those who want holistic and organic produce. With Vidmar's project, we now have evidence for indigenous growth in extremely cold climes as well.
There are many regions like Longyearbyen that suffer from poor soil and unsuitable conditions for growing food. Most of the food needs to be shipped into these areas while waste is dumped without recycling.
The polar permaculture technique looks at both these ends and offers a solution. It has helped Vidmar close the loop, reuse and recycle the waste to create a "circular economy." Food insecurity and food waste are worrisome issues. With the help of innovative technologies, it now seems a sustainable food culture is possible.
Vidmar's efforts are mirrored by Canadians Ben Canning and Stefany Nieto. They are working to produce affordable fresh food in the Arctic Canadian community of Naujaat. Remote locations like these suffer from lack of indigenous produce, and poverty is rampant, too.
Shocked by the conditions there, they partnered with organizations like Enactus Ryerson to bring about affordable, healthy food to the locals. They create greenhouses to grow fresh produce in otherwise harsh and impossible conditions. Much like Vidmar, they use techniques like insulated greenhouses hydroponic systems and compost-warmed geodesic domes, among others.
Other innovative strategies that defy the extreme climates include cold-weather container farms. Simple and brilliant, the technology transforms a shipping container into a hydroponic greenhouse.
Called the Arctic Growing System, this is slowly empowering remote Arctic communities to grow their greens on site. The future may see other remote locations benefit the same way, thereby lowering food insecurity around the world.
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