How Vertical Farms can Help During Disasters

fruit store

Supporters of vertical farms envision a future that has skyscraper farms beside work places and residences in urban centres. Their thinking is that by growing food where people are will help alleviate pressure on our soil and land use – and they’re right. Indeed, a recent realized spinoff benefit of vertical (or just indoor) farming is after a natural disaster these insulated farming systems can feed people in the impacted area.

In a way, Harvey was a test for Moonflower Farms. Founded by Marques in December 2015, it was one of the state’s very first indoor “vertical” farms—where plants are stacked in trays on shelves, instead of laid out horizontally across larger plots of land. In these high-tech structures, plants don’t rely on sunlight or soil, rainwater or pesticides, but LED lights and minerals instead. The goal of vertical farms isn’t just to save space; it’s also to find a more economical way of producing food for the growing population—and to reduce the costs and consequences of getting that food to where people actually live.

“We are kind of at the beginning of a revolution,” Per Pinstrup-Andersen, a graduate-school professor at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology, told me. “We’re at the beginning of a very rapid development in the use of indoor controlled facilities for producing vegetables and some fruits,” he said. “No matter what happens with climate change, you still have your controlled environment.”

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Preemptively React to Disasters to Save Lives

It might sound odd, but if we react to disasters before they happen we can save lives. The Food Security Climate Resilience Facility wants developed nations to release support for impending disasters before they happen. How do we know when disasters will happen when they seem so unpredictable? We can’t foresee all disasters but some are predictable like those caused by climate change.

If we make sure that we have resources to help people suffering from climate change before they get too badly impacted then we can have a better, more efficient, response.

WFP’s Food Security Climate Resilience Facility (FoodSECuRE) will shift the humanitarian model from a reactive system to one that looks forward and saves more lives, time and money. Both FoodSECuRE and a Red Cross project in Uganda – one in a range of Red Cross-Red Crescent forecast-based financing pilot projects – have been activated in recent weeks to meet climate-related disasters, the dramatic predictions of El Niño and extreme weather.

An anticipatory response not only protects people’s lives: new WFP research shows it also saves money. A 2015 FoodSECuRE analysis in Sudan and Niger shows that using a forecast-based system would lower the cost of the humanitarian response by 50 percent.

FoodSECuRE unlocks funds before disasters, but also ensures that funds are available between cycles of disasters, because only through reliable, multi-year funding will vulnerable people build their resilience to the effects of climate change.


Emergency Shelter Packaged Like a Coffee Cup

Reaction Call to Action from Reaction on Vimeo.

Reaction is a new company which recently crowd funded enough money to send a boatload of housing to help refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria. The company makes Exo shelters which are stackable and easily shippable emergency shelters that can be deployed to areas suffering a disaster. The design was created as a reaction to what the designer saw during Hurricane Katrina.

Eight years after his initial idea, he has come up with the Exo Housing Unit, which consists of a floor plate and an upper shell. The portable pieces can be transported easily; just one truck can carry over 20 units. Once at the disaster location, the shelter can be simply set-up by placing the shell on top of the floor plate. At $5,000, Exo shelters are also notably cheaper than the $20,000 trailers used for shelter during Katrina, according to Fast Company.

With the design finished, the company is now in production stage and can begin answering the multiple requests they have received for their shelters from around the world. First, they plan on sending their shelters to Syria in an effort to help some of the 7 million people who have been displaced due to civil unrest.

Read more here.

Thanks to Kathryn!

Backpack Tent for Disaster Areas

When natural disasters strike people can lose their homes and end up with no place to stay. This is obviously a problem because people will have no place for shelter. Here’s a neat idea for a tent that can be carried around as a backpack or be dragged around on its wheels.

Intended toward disaster victims, the “Temp-pack” by Asher Dunn is a shelter cum cart that folds into a portable backpack for quick and easy transportation. Comprising two pieces, the body and the door, made in recycled plastic, the portable shelter folds open and snaps the door into a right angle to create a dolly. Featuring two straps, with elastic core, to be used as bungee cords, the backpack straps other items either onto the dolly or in front of the shelter when the door is closed. The backpack also includes a handle that extends upwards to roll it on two wheels, while hooks on either side of the handle add more storage options to the unit. A compartment behind the expendable handle keeps the shelter intact. Made of waterproof fabric, the shelter includes a spring steel wire frame to maintain a freestanding tent structure and extend outward up to seven feet, resting the occupant in comfort. Users may simply push one end of the tent to fold it safely within the backpack.

See it at the Design Blog.

ECObitat is Green Disaster Relief Housing

ECObitat is a proposed modular housing design that looks good and is green. What’s even better is that it is easily deployable in the event of a disaster like a flood or earthquake. These sustainable shelters can be a good relief for the environment and people affected by natural disasters.

ECObitat is made of standard oriented strand boards (OSB) sheets with everything scaled using 1.22 m x 2.44 m dimensions. The structure of the house is made of a steel frame while structural insulated panels (SIP) panels are used for the walls and floor to define the rooms and provide support and insulation. The modular system has dimensions of 2.44 m x 3.10 m x 12.20, which is about the size of a standard 40′ shipping container. The vertical walls and floors are sheathed in OSB with thermo-acoustic insulation.

The whole house stands on telescoping legs, which makes it easier to place it on any type of ground without the need to search for a flat area. The metallic roof of the house features a series of solar panels and a small-scale wind turbine to produce enough power for the entire home. Modular plant boxes are mounted on the exterior and are planted with vegetation, which provides extra insulation. Depending on the types of plants used, the walls of the house can even produce food.

Keep reading at WIDN

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