American Museum of Natural History Features Urban Farming

Posted: November 16th, 2012 | Author:

Just in time for America’s biggest food holiday — Thanksgiving — the American Natural History Museum launches an ambitious new exhibition: Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture, exploring the complex and intricate food system that brings what we eat from farm to fork.  Urban agriculture gets some interesting and prominent attention as a recent twist in the telling of the story of human food.  The exhibition will truly be global in reach — traveling around the world for around seven years.

Windowfarms Installation at American Museum of Natural History

As you enter the exhibit, you face a floor-to-ceiling installation of living plants in Windowfarms,  an operational hydroponic vertical growing system designed and maintained by a start-up enterprise based in Brooklyn and recently featured in the 2012 Slow Money NYC Entrepreneur Showcase. (Full disclosure: I am a minority investor in this amazing little company founded by artist-entrepreneur Britta Riley).

Windowfarms planting system

A Windowfarm system allows for year- round growing in almost any window. It lets plants use natural window light, the climate control of your living space, and organic “liquid soil.” In conjunction with the exhibition, the entrance to the Museum’s Judy and Josh Weston Pavilion will feature a monumental 18-foot-tall, 280-plant installation of Windowfarms growing a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs to showcase sustainable food-growing techniques and agricultural biodiversity in increasingly urban habitats.

The living plants in the Windowfarms vertical garden included in Our Global Kitchen are edible greens, mostly lettuce and kale. They grow indoors, hydroponically—that is, without soil. Their roots derive nutrients from fortified water, which continuously drips through the system in a low-energy cycle. It requires technology, but without the need for soil, hydroponic gardeners can grow food almost anywhere, even in the desert or outer space. Pest and weed control is easy.

Gotham Greens greenhouse atop Greenpoint Wood Exchange, Brooklyn, NY

The exhibition starts with a thorough historical exploration of howour food has been grown over the centuries. Most of the plants and animals we raise for food today barely resemble their wild ancestors. Thousands of years ago, for instance, there was no corn—modern cobs were bred from a wild grass. Today’s global food economy binds us all to the 1 billion people working in agriculture, from a rice farmer in Vietnam to an oyster farmer in France.

A series of panels describes different forms of urban agriculture deployed across the globe from Brazil to right here in New York City.  One floor-to-ceiling poster features a small photo of Gotham Greens, a rooftop greenhouse farm producing leafy greens and located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  Year -round consumers can find Gotham Greens’ lettuce for sale at Whole Foods and other specialty grocery stores in NYC, like Union Market and Brooklyn Kitchen.

Architect’s rendering of Plantagon vertical greenhouse

A vitrine opposite the poster contains a scale model of Plantagon vertical greenhouse, a geodesic dome with its outer glass wall cut away to reveal a spiral helix of indoor fields, representing a futuristic imagining of a farm. Acompanying text lays out some “pro” and “con” of such a system.  Critics of the design say the unusual shape will increase construction cost, but Plantagon has justified the design  estimating a yield three times the amount of crops a traditional vertical urban farm of the same size. The spherical nature of the greenhouse was designed to maximize the access to light for optimal crop growth, even in winter seasons. Regardless of the outcome of this debate, the future may not be as far away as you think.  Groundbreaking for the world’s first Plantagon occurred in February 2012 at Linköping, Sweden (outside of Stockholm). Completion is expected in early 2013.

Our Global Kitchen is organized in sections devoted to growing, transporting, cooking, eating, tasting, and celebrating,  illuminating the myriad ways that food is produced and moved throughout the world. With opportunities to taste seasonal treats in the working kitchen, cook a virtual meal, view rare artifacts from the Museum’s collections, and peek into the dining rooms of famous figures throughout history, visitors will experience the intersection of food, nature, culture, health, and history—and consider some of the most challenging issues of our time.  The exhibit does not shy away from controversies at the core of food politics, including strong interpretive displays addressing issues like obesity, malnutrition and environmental degradation caused by industrial farming.

The exhibit has vivid graphics, dioramas (classic Natural History style) and 3-D models lining walls as well as a working demonstration kitchen and fun, engaging interactive components.  Our Global Table introduces basic issues of our food system and urban agriculture, making the exhibit a good outing for people of all ages — including kids.

Suggested general admission, which supports the Museum’s scientific and educational endeavors and offers access to the Museum’s 46 halls including the Rose Center for Earth and Space, is $19 (adults) suggested, $14.50 (students/seniors) suggested, $10.50 (children) suggested.  Members and student groups attend for free. For additional information, the public may call 212-769-5100 or visit the Museum’s website at amnh.org.

Filed under: Urban Agriculture | No Comments »
buy cipro online is zocor the same as tricor buy nolvadex online yasmin neuberg buy flagyl online adalat and prescribing information buy xenical online glimepiride 4 mg buy clomid online starlix tabs tabs buy lasix online calcium chloride admixtures