Urban Farms: Feeding 1 home at a time...
Large-scale urban agriculture is on the rise globally, with more and more farms appearing in our cities. A far cry from allotments and community gardens, urban farms occupy much bigger spaces; they can employ people, regenerate huge neighbourhoods and give residents access to fresh produce on their doorsteps.
The practice has been popular in North America for many years, with many huge rooftop farms surrounding New York City. Brooklyn Grange, for instance, produces close to 23,000kg of organic vegetables each year, and the world’s largest urban farm recently opened in Chicago.
Yet investment is also opening up elsewhere, particularly in the UK, with several urban farms planned across the country over the next few years – from Greater Manchester to London, and beyond.
These spaces come in all shapes and sizes. Some have animals – while others train farmers or apprentices. Many are increasingly using hydroponics and other forms of technology to grow food more efficiently.
A good example of this is Farm Urban in Liverpool, which is using leftover land (including the University of Liverpool Student Union’s rooftop) for aquaponics: a man-made, symbiotic system where plants and aquatic animals such as fish can nourish each other.
Those adopting a highly technical approach appear to be more sustainable than other types of urban farms. One can often find forward-thinking individuals at the helm of the projects, using their skills to gain financial support from major businesses. For instance, The Biospheric Studio in Manchester uses hydroponics to grow mushrooms for five star restaurants, which are willing to pay for the trendy local food label.
The capacity of urban farms to tackle major issues such as poverty and reducing food miles should not be underestimated, and with more ambitious projects starting up every day, it might not be long until you see one appearing in your neighbourhood.