With an ever increasing world population people have to start thinking out of the box for food solutions. One of these great new revolutions is urban farming. Urban farming is exactly that, farming and producing food within the urban community, there are many ways in which it can be done.
Urban farming has many advantages, including a reduced carbon footprint due to limited transportation needs, utilising space that would otherwise be wasted, adding to a greener look of cities, as well as contributing to the reversal of the alarming levels of CO2 present in cities. It is also found that it generally uses less soil and water, and very importantly, supplies a pollen source for the city bees.
These are often the most popular and prevalent due to its simplicity. Very little initial infrastructure is required and it often also serves as a stress outlet for the people involved in it, a sort of ‘get away’ from the city’s hustle and bustle.
Over the weekend I saw a documentary where the shop was growing most of its own fruit and veggies on the rooftop. This means there is practically no transport involved, significantly reducing the carbon footprint of these produce. And because there isn’t nearly as much soil to be watered you save on that as well, not to mention the space efficiency.
It uses less than 5% of the water of conventional commercial farming. This method produces both fresh leafy greens and a healthy supply of Tilapia fish. I have seen very successful examples of this in old warehouses, where the fish is kept in tanks, big enough for them to grow sufficiently, with tall frames holding the containers of greens. There is no soil involved and the roots of the greens hang in a channel of water below them, the nutrient rich water from the fish tanks are flushed through these water channels ‘feeding’ the plants, and assisting in the filtration process of the tank’s water. These frames consist of numerous shelves with UV and LED lights that serves as a kind of replacement for the sun, which means that these veggies grow 24/7. Another advantage of this type of farming is that no pesticides are needed since the environment is controlled and no bugs can get into this closed system.
I hear you when you ask, ‘but what about the electricity involved to power this system?’ Because both LED and Fluorescent lights are more power efficient when running them long term as opposed to regularly switching them on and off, they use surprisingly little electricity. So much so that it would be totally viable to run this system on a solar or wind powered energy source.
This is different from Aquaponics in some key aspects. Firstly there aren’t necessarily Tilapia fish involved, and these are often grown in greenhouses, or outside, where they are fuelled by the sun, and not artificial lighting.
However, people often get confused due to the fact that they both include stacking up the greens on tall frames. In vertical farming, these frames often rotate, so as to give each shelf enough time in the sun to grow sufficiently. This system can also very easily be powered by wind of solar energy.
This trend is gaining popularity by the day, with more and more people trading in their lush green lawns for a more nutritious veggie garden. I have written a very informative post about this previously, which will also help you to save water in the process.
Other examples of urban farms include beekeeping, cattle farming and underground gardens. With more difficult circumstances caused by droughts, global warming, wild fires, and displaced people food security is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve.
How do you plan to help relieve the pressure of food security?