Living in a dense urban area often makes it more difficult to gain access to fresh, healthy foods. Experts say more than 23.5 million Americans, 6.5 million of which are children, currently live in a “food desert“–a place that’s a mile or more from a traditional grocery store yet surrounded by fast-food restaurants or convenience stores.
Community gardens are a great way to combat the devastating health effects of these food deserts, but they too face challenges in the urban environment. In order to produce a significant amount of food, urban farms need space–large lots that get plenty of sun and have good quality soil. Unfortunately, open space is one thing lacking in many major cities. Ray Cirino’s “Garden in the Sky” a vertical farming concept currently gathering funding on Kickstarter, aims to change all that.
Vertical gardening–growing food up and down instead of in horizontal rows on the ground–is nothing new. There are vertical gardening concepts as large as skyscrapers and as small as window planters. What makes Cirino’s “Garden in the Sky” concept slightly different is the simple construction, and the fact that when finished, visitors will be able to climb up inside it, harvesting food from every level.
For Cirino, who was named on of the top 50 innovators of 2009 in L.A. Weekly magazine, this project isn’t just another cap feather, it’s a labor of love for the community. “Garden in the Stars” will be a three-story tall botanical structure, covered in fruits and vegetables, inside and out, and will serve as an interactive living sculpture for student, teachers, and the public to learn and benefit from.
“We can have multiple harvests of fresh produce throughout the year, and use the most enriched, compost-based soil mixtures to grow this food,” explains Cirino. “There are a lot of people in LA who need this to happen. This is a new generation of public art, which offers more than just beauty.” The tower could also help address global climate change by eliminating vast areas of dark asphalt-based surfaces that cause urban areas to heat up, accelerating energy demand for cooling.
Want to see the “Garden in the Sky” become a reality? Find out how you can help here.