As the worlds viable farming land becomes increasingly depleted, innovative urban farms are popping up all over the world. Here’s our top 10 innovative urban farms.
1. The GrowUp Box, London, United Kingdom
The GrowUp Box in London is an innovative urban aquaponics farm which was initially funded through the crowd-funding website kickstarter. Up-cycled from a shipping container with a greenhouse on the top, the farm produces talipia (a white, great tasting fish) in the container, and in the greenhouse over 400+ salads and herbs are grown using modern day vertical farming techniques. The shipping container is specially designed to ensure there is enough room for the fish to grow, the water from the fish tank is circulated up the columns of the greenhouse and provides the nutrients for the 400+ salads and herbs to grow. The fish and salads are then sold to restaurants in the surrounding area. The company behind this brilliant scheme is also in the process of designing and building London’s first commercial urban farm.
2. The World’s Largest LED Farm, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan
Designed to help with Japan’s large scale agricultural needs, the world’s largest LED farm used to be a Sony semiconductor plant until a Japanese scientist decided to convert it into the world largest indoor farm illuminated by LED lighting. Roughly half the size of a football pitch (25,000 square foot) the farm is capable of producing 10,000 lettuce heads every day. Using LED lighting that is designed specifically for the wavelength of the plants, they are able to increase plant growth rates by up to 250%. To achieve this the farm uses over 17 thousand lights spread across 18 cultivation racks that tower 16 levels high. Temperature and humidity levels are also closely controlled and this has resulted in rapid growth and reduced waste.
3. Plantagon Vertical Farm, Linköping, Sweden
One of the main challenges represented in vertical farming is the need for uniform distribution of natural light to allow even growth of vertically farmed plants. Plantagons solution is to create a corkscrew type method with the farm constantly rotating, exposing the plant to an even distribution of light and promoting equal growth. Inside the glass walls, vegetables will be grown in pots and then moved to trays positioned around a giant central helix. The plants grow as the trays slowly rotate down the central core and once they reach the bottom of the central core they are ready to be harvested. Plant residue and waste will be recycled into bio-gas and used to power the heating and cooling systems in place in the vertical farm.
4. Gotham Greens, New York, USA
New York doesn’t have an abundance of space on the ground to farm and you would be forgiven for thinking that this urban jungle would have little future in farming. However, one thing New York has in abundance is roof tops. Gotham Greens have taken advantage of this unused space and have become New York City’s first professional rooftop greenhouse farmers. Over a bowling alley in Brooklyn a 15,000 square foot roof is harvesting herbs and vegetables for the City’s population. The design of the greenhouse was made to give the best possible control for their expert urban gardeners, and completely sealed, allows full control of all aspects of the growing environment from CO2, temperature and humidity.
5. Sky Greens, Singapore
Singapore is a very crowded city, with one of the highest population densities on the planet. As a result real estate is at a very high premium, and this makes vertical farming a very viable option for the City. Sky Greens is one of the first commercial vertical farms in the world, producing bok choy and Chinese cabbages, grown inside 120 slender 30-foot towers. Trays of Chinese vegetables are stacked inside a metal A-frame, and a belt rotates them like a slow motion Ferris Wheel via a gravity fed water wheel, into a nutrient infused bath below and the sun above. The plants receive equal light, good air flow and irrigation.
6. Growing Underground, London, UK
Deep beneath the ground, underneath the Northern line near Clapham, lies an underground farm which is producing herbs and salads to be sold to shops and high end restaurants in London and surrounding areas. Growing Underground is using an abandoned underground line that has been hired from Transport for London, at present only a small part of the farm is operational but there is the potential for 2.5 acres of growing space to be utilised. Using LED lighting and integrated hydroponics system they are able to grow a range of delicacies, with no pests and consistent temperatures. If additional energy is needed there is the potential for heat thermals from the northern line to be diverted.
7. Lufa Farms, Montreal, Canada
In 2011 Lufa Farms constructed the world’s first commercial rooftop greenhouse. Located above it’s headquarters office in Montreal, Canada is a 31,000 square feet greenhouse that is producing a wide array of vegetables, which is delivered to over 4,000 people in the local area every week. The company has now expanded and in September 2013 opened a second 43,000 square feet greenhouse in Laval. The farms produce over forty varieties of vegetables grown without synthetic pesticides, capturing rainwater, and recirculating irrigation water.
8. The Farmery, North Carolina, USA
Designed to eliminate the complex journey that food has to take from farm to market, from harvesting, packing, transporting and cooling. The Farmery’s solution is to create an 8,000 square foot food market, that provides shopping on the ground level, while growing the produce on the upper level.
9. Urban Organics, Minnesota, USA
Urban Organics is a large scale indoor aquaponic farm which produces both fish and salad greens to shops and restaurants, whilst using just 2% of the water used in conventional agriculture. At peak production, when using all 6 floors, the farm is capable of producing over 150,000 pounds of fish and 700,000 pounds of greens every year. Aquaponics is the combined culture of fish and hydroponic crops in a closed-loop, recirculating system. The fish waste provides the nutrients needed for plants to grow, and the plants in turn acts as a filter to improve the water quality for the fish.
10. Pasona Group, Tokyo, Japan
The headquarters of Pasona Group, a recruitment company in Tokyo is a 9 story office block that also doubles as an urban farm. There is over 4000 square metres dedicated to green space and the building is home to over 200 species of plants, fruits and vegetables. All the food that is grown is harvested, prepared and served on site in the staff cafeterias and employees are encouraged to harvest and maintain the crops. Inside the offices, tomato vines hang above conference tables, lemon trees are used as partitions for meeting spaces, salad leaves are grown inside seminar rooms and bean sprouts are grown under benches. The plants are intended to relax the employees, encourage more innovative thinking and create a sense of community as workers tend to their crops.