The Soviet Union had major food problems in the 1920's, what with the civil war and an attempt at forced requisitions. Their solution was the NEP, which used grain taxes instead of total requisition, and did state capitalism for the economy.

Did Lenin or anyone else investigate greenhouses around this time? It seems enclosed greenhouses would allow food production anywhere in Russia, rather than relying on the grain belts and transporting huge distances. (In fact I remember reading about Khrushchev's agro-town concept in the late 1950's, though I don't know if those were proposed greenhouses.) It would require much more work to build, but if they successfully electrified the country in the 20's, I would guess they could build them.

Instead, Stalin abolished the NEP in 1928 (and also re-instituted internal passports to tie the peasants to the land), and proceeded with total collectivization to support total industrialization very soon.

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    There is a photograph of a USSR greenhouse operation from the 1920s in "Memoirs of Peasant Tolstoyans in Soviet Russia", page 9. – Aaron Brick Jul 26 '17 at 18:27

A greenhouse requires glass (or, these days, plastic). This is fairly expensive, especially 90 years ago, especially in Russia. They make sense when land is scarce and any measure to improve its productivity pays.

This was not the case in Russia.

Much lower hanging fruits are

  1. Mechanization - attempted in the form of MTS during Collectivization
  2. Chemistry - attempted by Khrushchev.

PS. Note that "successfully electrified the country in the 20's" is, to put it mildly, an exaggeration - just look at the rate of electrification in the 30ies.

PPS. I don't have a reference for discussions of greenhouses in preparation for collectivization, just like I don't have a reference for discussions of Urban agriculture.

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  • This does not answer the question. I did not ask for an engineering or economic analysis. I'm asking if the Soviets did any such analysis or investigation in the 20's. – DrZ214 Jul 26 '17 at 20:01
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    @DrZ214: no, there are MUCH CHEAPER alternatives. – sds Jul 26 '17 at 20:09
  • Do you have a source that the Soviets never investigated greenhouses during this period? – DrZ214 Jul 26 '17 at 22:27

These days many people considered themselves as people of future. And the future way of feeding people was seen in mass growing of chlorella in ponds and lakes - to make a huge soup bowls for the whole towns or cities - they preferred collectivismus in everything. Yes, greenhouses and hydroponics were also considered as methods of future, but not for long. They didn't really start in practice and the harsh reality of collectivization soon destroyed all these enthusiasts and their ideas.

As for alternate ways of food growing, the most interesting way was seriously considered in the end of USSR existence. I was myself (in ~1985) on the conference for the alternative methods in industry and agriculture, and one of the main themes there was...

People, you will not believe, but it really WAS so! And the conference was not at 1st of April. Every piece of text here withou quotes is was the pure reality. The USSR had great problems with food, and they opened The Food Program... And there were anecdotes:

' Two skeletons are meeting:
- Where had you died? As for me, I had died before The Food Program.
- And I am yet alive

So, returning to the theme, they seriously considered the ways how to make a human being to absorb Nitrogen from the air. There were projects about use of some bacterias. Or special air filters. And there was a project - a serious, state project, on which many scientists worked - that declared, that if you won't eat any external proteins, your organism will start to obtain nitrogen by itself. The problem was not to let the organism die of hunger before it starts that process. And they already experimented on people - on themselves - they were good enthusiasts. They even had some positive results - as they declared - and their organisms got more protein that they accepted from the food and drink...

Orwell had very poor fantasy!

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  • @MarkC.Wallace It is a rhetoric interruption. :-) – Gangnus Jul 27 '17 at 10:51

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