Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WGRZ - Push For "Plantagon," Innovative Urban Farming in Buffalo

Written by
Sarah Hopkins

Pierre Wallinder has a vision for Buffalo, and it's called "Plantagon."
"We know it's a solution to a very large problem, which is looming all over us," said Wallinder. "We are living in a world where the population is increasing and acreage is decreasing."
Wallinder says if a Plantagon were to be built in Buffalo, it would help bring the city to the forefront of urban agriculture. The structure is something like a vertical greenhouse. Inside, it would house a conveyor belt that would carry produce from seedlings until they reach full maturity, ready for harvest. Plantagon is a Swedish company; currently the first structure is under construction in Sweden, with another in the works in China.
"We have a number of cities around the globe which are really pushing hard for us to come there," said Wallinder, a native of Sweden and Plantagon's United States spokesman, who also happens to have made his home in Buffalo for the past thirteen years.
"Buffalo is on the list, Buffalo is on the radar screen, and we are carefully talking with different site owners, primarily site owners and site controllers, where we could find a good fit," said Wallinder.
He says ideal locations for the project would be Buffalo's abandoned grain elevators, the Central Terminal or the Broadway Market.
Wallinder says the Plantagon would be about 54 meters tall (177 feet), and would be able to produce a large amount of produce for a low cost to the consumer.
He says building a Plantagon would cost about $15 million, and funding would need to come from a number of different sources.
"The owners will have a share and we are looking for partners," said Wallinder.
The final product would create between thirty and fifty jobs, and would ideally have a restaurant and office space attached. Wallinder claims it would also be a tourist attraction.
"It would create a tremendous buzz, an amazing activity and energy around it," said Wallinder.
He says he has approached local officials about the idea, like Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Sam Hoyt of Empire State Development.
Hoyt said he thinks it is an interesting concept, but would need many more details, such as a solid business plan, before he could comment on whether the Plantagon would be a viable option for Buffalo.

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