Making useless stuff useful


I grew up in a coal-mining region, and I live there still. The landscape is dotted with countless abandoned coal mines and “brownfields,” or old industrial and frequently contaminated sites. What to do with all of this blighted and seemingly useless terrain? I think on this a lot.

Well, an article caught my eye. It seems that there are researchers who are busy figuring out how to place farms into abandoned mine shafts- a splendid idea. Worldwide there are probably millions of these dangerous and currently useless holes, and many of them are located very near or in metropolitan areas. Why not exploit them for agriculture? Also, a useful link on a related subject was provided to me by Dirk De Jager. There’s a lot of potential here.

The technology is there, and with near-constant temperatures and “weather,” these mines-turned-farms could produce about six crops per year as opposed to the standard two or three.

Some questions I have are what the plan is to remediate Acid Mine Drainage, and ensuring safety in what are frequently unsafe and unmaintained shafts. Besides that, the promise of this possible future form of agriculture is good.

The fact is that we are running out of arable land for a growing population. And an unchanging fact is that if you don’t grow it, then you have to mine it. Why not turn played out mines into “land?”

Makes sense to me.


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