When the development pattern is based on transport, we get drive-in food; we get canned drinks made of sugar, additives and water. Fast food is neither social, nor particularly flavorful or nutritious. However, in a transport-based society, it is cheap, while good food can be expensive. The experience of drinking juice from fresh-squeezed, tree ripened oranges is completely different from a can from a vending machine. For a start, it is seasonal. It is warmer, not refrigerated, but it tastes good at that temperature... and for most, it is memorable, a pleasure that also happens to be far more nutritious. If you own the trees, it also is free and there is no bottle or can to toss when you are done.
As the global population grows, topsoil becomes more depleted, arable land is built upon, and the climate becomes more unstable with drought and flood, having access to good, flavorful, nutritious food may no longer be something we can count on.
The prudent approach in creating a development pattern for seven generations is to make better use of local resources... starting with the roof. In 2015, our team was working in California, where the number one question when the local community was considering this new development pattern asked "where do you get the water?" Normally about a meter (38") of rain falls every year, but in 2014 only 7.5" (19 cm) fell, the lowest since records had been kept. If a new community was to be built, it had to use a lot less water and store it more effectively.
Rooftop Greenhouses (glasshouses)
Instead of building roofs that merely provided weather protection, rooftop greenhouses were examined. Such a design element does not cost much more than a conventional roof, but it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Among these was the option of local, commercial food growing. Not all foods can be grown locally, but a significant variety can be grown, and if computer controlled LED lighting is used, agricultural scientists say that one can harvest foods every week of the year. The elements include:
- Rooftop greenhouse (glasshouse) harvests rainwater from the roof, adding no contaminants as it is stored underground
- Some of the glass panels are a new form of clear solar panel that converts about 18% of the solar energy into electricity
- The electricity is stored using vanadium batteries
- Access is by a small elevator (lift) that also means every building has handicap access
- Growing soil is based on Terra Preta soil science
- Air exchange can draw CO² from the house for growing plants and direct oxygen-rich air into the home for human health
- 90% of the rooftops projected to be commercially farmed where the home owner is paid rent
- The rooftops can be designed as warm semi-outdoor, private living space, especially nice in winter
The Village Cafe
In addition to growing food, the development pattern includes a community-owned cafe on each village plaza. It adds about $4 a month to the mortgage on each of the 200 village homes to pay to buy, build and outfit a cafe, including interior space and alfresco dining outside on the village plaza.
This cafe is then leased to a proprietor at $1 a year provided the price of the fare reflects the subsidy and the food & drink is both flavorful and nutritious. The benefits of this are numerous
- Eating out becomes a social event, people connect, especially if some of the tables are long tables where people can sit down and strike up a conversation
- Better food can be more affordable than shopping and preparing food at home
- Less food wastage, more efficient use of water and energy for preparing food
- Provides low-skill jobs and returns more time to the villagers
- With multiple village cafes in a town, the economy becomes known for its food & drink