We harvesting latex based vegetables, in order to produce food and natural Bio-polymers from the same plant. Aiming for a green, organic, non-toxic, oil-free and gluten-free revolution.

Bioplastic is posed as a sustainable alternative to petrol based plastics, and will be produced in exponentially increasing quantities in the coming years. Rice, potatoes, corn, and cassava are considered the most efficient and resilient for the manufacture of PLA in particular. Yet turning food into inedible material is problematic from environmental, economic, and ethical perspectives. As the world's population grows, its survival will rely on a corresponding growth in agricultural land. The problem is even more absurd considering that PLA is used to make disposable products...
"we are wasting food to produce objects designed to be wasted".
This project proposes a different method: to grow edible plants that also contain latex, thus harvesting both raw bioplastic and food, without wasting life-sustaining carbohydrates. The research explored the ideal plants for this system, such as Dandelion and Chicory and Salsify, which are both highly nutritious and contain a high amount of latex. Salsify was also discovered to be a source of EVA, a non-toxic, antibacterial and potentially biodegradable thermoplastic that could replace elastic, flexible, and spongy plastics made of synthetic polymers.
The project  lays out the design for a large-scale, automated vertical farm owned collectively by local citizens, returning agency over the allocation of agricultural land and its financial profits to the people affected by its larger consequences. By realising an alternative to private capitalism, the vertical farm will not only produce bioplastic and food more cheaply, but  also find a constructive context for industrialisation, automation, and technological advancement.


Text Curated by Tamar Shafrir

The small module of the vertical farm was created in collaboration with the mechanical engineer Antoine de Bock and Diogo Rinaldi, the photos are made by Nicole Marnati and the video by Vincent Van Dijck
We are already harvesting crops of bioplastic from food resources for PLA production. And that’s because if we want a biodegradable plastic we must use an organic and not inorganic resource like oil. But with a population increase of seven to nine billion over the next thirty years, and with an urgent request of 70% more agricultural land, using food to make objects doesn't make sense.

Nearly 0,01% of global arable lands are used for the production of bioplastic, and this is a trend in the next three years will grow by more than double. But If we transformed all the plastic produced each year 400 million tons into PLA (Polylactic-Acid), it would serve an agricultural area of 162 million Hectares as big as Argentina. That is 12% of the total global arable land 1.4 billion Hectares. This undoubtedly has an impact on deforestation that is partly occurring, but also on the aquifers and on people caused by the intensive use of fertilizers and pesticides.



The system I propose is based on another principle: I’m using the latex which is a natural biopolymer produced by over 12,500 plants and among these I havenarrow down my research only to those plants that are edible and grow in mild climates. Like Taraxacum, Chicory and Scorzonera which are local growing vegetables that contain in their roots a high percentage of latex, and above all have high nutritional values.



The Scorzonera Hispanica (Black Salsify in English and Schorseneren in Dutch) it’s known as “forgotten vegetable” because it has been outclassed by the mass production of monocultures such as corn, rice, soy, and wheat. Only recently with the diffusion of vegan and vegetarian culture, these plants are back in vogue; Holland being the world’s largest producer. Indeed, it is well documented that the Netherlands has a strong and rooted gastronomic tradition with Schorseneren, as it is reported in one of the most famous and ancient books of traditional Dutch cuisine, De verstandige kock and the De hoofsche pasteybacker (Amsterdam 1669). Salsify is referred to in old songs and in folk mottos that describe the plant as keukenmeidenverdriet, and huisvrouwenleed (“housewife pain”) or as armeluisasperge (“the poor-man asparagus”). These names refer to the high concentration of latex that stick to your hands and glue your fingers. Therefore, cleaning this vegetable was “painful” and annoying. In addition, it dyes your hands dark-brown for days because of the combination of high levels of iron, latex and sandy soil residuals. Having “brown hands” was a symbol of poverty and highlighted the low social conditions. Probably this is one of the reasons why this plant has been forgotten over time.
It is well documented that during the Second World War the Scorzonera Tau-Saghyz was used by the Soviet Union as an urgent replacement of the traditional source of latex from Southeast Asia. The reason is that the Japanese army held 90% of the Malaysian rubber tree plantations. the alternative plantations of Salsify and Guayule had extraordinary results since 1 Hectare yielded up to 1,5 tons of latex every 4 months.







Mark