Feeding cities in more sustainable ways will be key part of food security in the future, Michael Hamm, a professor of Sustainable Agriculture at Michigan State University writes. But he offers some key questions about the sustainability of urban farming, and in particular, the use of artificial lighting. Does it make environmental and economic sense? Might time, resources and capital be more effectively invested in other models of agricultural production?

Dr. Hamm writes for The Guardian:


“As part of improving sustainability and resilience, city region food systems in the developed world need to be strengthened and food should be sourced, on average, closer to home. However, does it makes sense to put a lot of intellectual activity and resources into something that negates the direct use of our one absolutely renewable resource – the sun – and replace it with artificial light? Aren’t there other strategies for moving production closer to home?

Perhaps its time we moved beyond 100% artificial lighting to consider other possibilities, such as field level tunnels that keep crops from frost kill in the early spring and late fall; unheated high tunnels that use only solar capture to produce crops year-round in colder climates; and greenhouses with heat and supplemental light for a full 12-month production of a wider range of crops.”