Jim Frasche has refined a low energy, low water, high productivity solar greenhouse that produces enough food year round to feed a family of four while generating enough cash flow to pay for the entire system. He initially created the system for Kabul, Afghanistan as part of the post war reconstruction effort and opium substitution program. He was ultimately driven out by warlords, but the system works very well in Denver which has the same climate, altitude, and latitude. His current emphasis is on urban “food deserts” where inner city neighborhoods lack access to good quality grocery stores and where productive household enterprises could create jobs for the unemployed.
The general trend for the past fifty years has been for regions to specialize in a particular kind of crop. Corn in Nebraska, soy in Iowa, citrus in Florida, fruits, nuts, and veggies in California… Then each region trades with the others via refrigerated trucks over the interstate highways. In theory specialization and mass production have driven down prices and created more variety. However, this system requires exceptionally abundant and cheap fuel as well as heavy subsidies from federal and state governments. Looking ahead to the next fifty years we may have to relocalize agricultural as both fuel and subsidies dwindle. Small scale diversified, and decentralized production may be part of the transition.
Check out Jim Frasche’s website at Turnkey Aqauaponics.
This story was edited by Kirsten Dirksen of faircompanies.com.