Thursday, November 06, 2008

Urban Farming
Tokyo has added under ground and rooftop farms.

Kitazawa was one of many young people here left without a stable income as Japanese companies slashed jobs. But he finally ended years of job hunting when he found the position growing vegetables right in the middle of Tokyo.

"I felt a bit odd at first growing vegetables like this, but I've learned its merits," Kitazawa said.

The state-of-the art farm, known as Pasona O2, was created by Tokyo-based temp staffing agency Pasona Group Inc. The farm carefully adjusts temperatures, humidity and lighting so vegetables can grow under the ground.

Kitazawa grows a few different types of lettuce in one of the six "farms," which look somewhat like space laboratories divided by glass doors that slide open and shut automatically.

The other farming rooms grow rice, roses and vegetables such as tomatoes and pumpkins.

I do not think this type of farming will be cost effective in the US. Rooftop farms to cool the buildings from the heat island effect might be of use here.

Encouraged by environment-conscious Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, a number of building owners in the capital have introduced roof-top gardening as a way to prevent overheating.

In the "Green Potato" project launched by two subsidiaries of Japanese telecommunications giant NTT Corp., city farmers not only help cool down Tokyo but also harvest sweet potatoes in autumn.

"Sweet potatoes grow strongly in the tough roof-top environment of harsh sun and strong wind," said Masahiro Nagata, a staff member of NTT Facilities Inc.'s environment business department.

The plants are particularly good for roof-tops because their wide leaves can cover the whole surface and are efficient at transpiration -- evaporating water -- which has a cooling effect.

The temperature of a roof area not covered by potato leaves was as much as 27 degrees Celsius (48.6 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than an area covered by the leaves, according to a survey taken on top of the NTT Facilities building.

All most fifty degrees!

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