“Cotton is one of the biggest natural resources that almost everyone uses,” said Merrick resident Alexa Geller, a junior at the fashion-centric LIM College. Harvesting of the material, however, is a process that can be refined to produce less waste — which her recent vertical tree farm project aims to do.
Geller designed the vertical indoor farm, titled The Three Farm, with two other students. It allows for year-round cotton farming in an efficient, sustainable system that uses solar cells to generate heat necessary for cotton to grow and collectects rainwater for a consistent source of water.
“Anything that comes with commercial farming comes with pollution,” said Geller, 24. “This could be a really good step forward in producing cotton.”
The Three Farm would be an alternative to the cotton farming that largely takes place in southern United States’ hot climates. Many farms also use “municipal water,” Geller said, but her project’s external water tanks for rainwater collection adds a factor of sustainability.
For the concept, Geller's group won first place in The Cotton Climate Challenge Competition, which was held during LIM’s first Virtual Sustainability Expo on April 27 and 28. Home-bound due to the Covid-19 outbreak, students presented their sustainable, cotton-based and fashion-related projects virtually to a panel of judges.
For her first-place win, Geller and her partners received a $1,000 scholarship. She unfortunately could not create a physical example of her project due to the virus, she said.
After graduating from LIM College, Geller plans to pursue fashion law, an interest of hers while growing up, she said.
“I’ve always been interested in climate change,” Geller said, “and fashion is one of the biggest contributors to that. It’s definitely something I want to learn more about and focus on.”