The world population is constantly growing and with an estimation of almost 80% of it living in urban centers by 2050, many challenges arise. This urbanization is creating new opportunities for inventive and sustainable urban agriculture.
Urban farming is certainly not a new phenomenon, but it has been taken to a whole new, very innovative level during the past years. Local agriculture and short food supply chains enable economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits for all parties involved and contributes to sustainable development.
With people starting to gain an appreciation for high-quality food, healthy nutrition combined with a growing awareness of the environment, urban farmers are providing environmentally friendly and efficient urban food systems to support this demand in a sustainable way.
According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), urban farmers already supply food to about 700 million city residents, representing around a quarter of the world’s urban population. Urban agriculture has a potential way to feed a larger, more dense population of the future.
Given the advances in technology, urban farmers can be as creative as they wish
when growing affordable, high-quality food on unused land. Unconventional thinking turns swimming pools, bomb shelters and “smart” upcycled shipping containers into hydroponic and aquaponic recirculation greenhouses.
Vertical Farms – The Future?
Many urban farmers employ vertical farms which are designed to use height to maximize growth space within cities. They combine ancient, traditional techniques with a modern twist, by integrating hydroponics – growing crops in a medium other than soil – or aquaponics in their multi-story greenhouses. Incorporating aquaponics in the processes implies a perfect and natural symbiotic relationship between fish and plants.
The nutritious waste produced by the fish serves as an organic fertilizer for the plants. The plants in return filter and purify the water and release it back to the fish.
Growing vegetables on top of supermarkets and restaurants
A range of urban farmers are already converting some of our generations’ biggest challenges into some of our greatest business opportunities by creating ultra-efficient farms on top of buildings, such as supermarkets and restaurants.
The conditions on top of a supermarket are perfect for the plants. The warmth from the supermarket’s heating and lighting systems that come through the roof can be used to protect the plants against frost.
BrightFarms is one example of how to create resource efficient greenhouses and contribute to more environmentally friendly processes. The company is building sustainable hydroponic greenhouses close to or even on the rooftop of grocery stores.
Another example is TheFarmery, an innovative sustainable agriculture project and a futuristic vertical farm that also grows and sells food at the same place. It allows the customer to harvest the produce themselves.
This concept of growing herbs, fruits and vegetables at the location of consumption is also applied by restaurants in high-density urban areas. Kitchen chefs are harvesting their herbs and vegatables from aeroponic rooftop gardens of their urban restaurants and serving it directly to the customer.
The Stedsans concept has taken rooftop gardening to another level. It is a very unique and innovative farm restaurant, which is located on a roof located in a greenhouse in the heart of Copenhagen. The owners are serving food that is “clean, simple and local”. This concept is a perfect example on how good food can bring people closer to nature in a ‘hyggelig’ setting.
And who doesn’t love the facts that growing greens on roofs can decrease heating and cooling bills, provide the neighborhood with more oxygen and fewer fossil fuel exhausts that come with trucking products from different areas of the world?