Photograph by Spencer Millsap
Photograph by Spencer Millsap

The Quest to Find New Farmland

Two weeks ago, we spent a few days in Berlin and London. We met entrepreneurs pursuing the question of farmland, and whether there’s enough. On a planet with exploding demand for food, increasing population, and finite space, we wondered how the world would continue to feed itself.

In both cities the entrepreneurs—not farmers—that we met had some funky ideas. One was to farm in dark tunnels originally designed during World War Two. The other was a contraption you might one day find on your roof that uses an aquaponics system to yield fresh tomatoes, peppers, and live fish.

By no means are these the only new ideas in urban agriculture. Farmers in Brooklyn and Hong Kong are testing new projects. Detroit is banking part of its future on agriculture inside its city limits. Perhaps there’s a budding project in your community that’s bringing food closer to where it’s eaten.

But we chose Berlin and London because they were the most provocative we could find. You have to be a little nutty to start a farm a hundred feet below city streets, but these businessmen aren’t delusional. They know farming in pitch black isn’t the solution to feeding 10 billion people by the middle of the century. They’re just trying to needle us all into thinking about where future food will come from along with the ingenuity needed to grow it. And we took the bait.

Visit our digital experience, and go inside both projects here.

Read This Next

Can science help personalize your diet?
Hogs are running wild in the U.S.—and spreading disease
Salman Rushdie on the timeless beauty of the Taj Mahal

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet