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Home > Feature Articles > Food Processing for Sustainable, Local, Organic and Effective Food Distribution

Edible Walls for Urban Agriculture on Fences, Roofs, and Patios

Green roofs and green walls are spreading from the core purpose of insulation to water conservation and edible food production -- and urban agriculture

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The Barthelmes Manufacturing Company is a typical sheet metal fabricator. A growing part of the company’s business is being devoted to something decidedly unindustrial: edible walls — metal panels filled with soil and seeds and hung vertically.

Like green roofs, edible walls include a thick layer of vegetation on the outside of buildings to provide insulation and reduce heating and electricity costs.

But unlike green roofs — and their vertical cousins, green walls — edible walls also produce fruit, vegetables and herbs in far less space than typical gardens. That’s why advocates of urban farming have embraced them as a way to lower food costs, increase nutritional quality and cut fuel consumption and carbon emissions by using fewer delivery trucks.

Urban Agriculture with Edible Walls

Edible walls — descendants of espalier, or trees grown against walls that were popular during the Middle Ages in Europe — are just one small attempt to grow food in cities. Other companies, such as Valcent Products builds greenhouses filled with hundreds of trays of hydroponic vegetables stacked on conveyor belts. Sky Vegetables hopes to build commercial farms on the flat roofs of hospitals, schools and food banks. Dickson D. Despommier, the director of the Vertical Farm Project at Columbia University, envisions entire skyscrapers turned into indoor farms capable of growing 100 different crops.

The leader in the niche area of edible walls is Green Living Technologies, another company in Rochester that has built edible walls here, in New York City, Los Angeles, Detroit and elsewhere. They even have "GLT Mobile Edible Walls!"

Read and see the story in all it's green duds at: New York Times

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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