Imagine this — a sprawling urban oasis of concrete buildings and modern skyscrapers, but instead of having to travel for an hour out into the countryside for fresh air, you find yourself amidst lush greenery that has been seamlessly integrated into your environment — uniting the vibrance of a city with all the goodness of nature. The future of city farming is looking bright. With a growing awareness and movement in recent years, the number of innovative, eco-friendly projects to engineer greener cities has ballooned, making cities more sustainable, liveable and bringing communities, as well as our relationship to food much closer together.
What is City Farming
The idea of city farming is a combination of different efforts aimed at growing fruits and vegetables in an urban area, typically in container gardening, vertical gardening, hydroponics and aquaponics and then distributing them within that specific area (#EatLocal!). It mainly differs from rural farming, by a lack of large areas of arable land. City farming helps to lessen the impact of our carbon footprint, gets fresher food to our plates faster and also enables us to make more efficient use of land and resources — a problem that populous cities struggle with.
Did you know? City Farming is not restricted to gardening and can encompass a wide range of activities ranging from beekeeping, aqua farming, agroforestry and horticulture.
Now, we take a look at the best visions of self-sustainable green living from around the world..
From an abandoned underground WW2 air raid bunker to an office that feeds its workers, here are some of the most innovative urban farming concepts from around the world:
🇩🇪Berlin: Prinzessinnen Garten
This project beautifully demonstrates the power of when hundreds of volunteers came together to make a positive change, transforming a giant, urban wasteland in Berlin into a mobile, blooming oasis by planting vegetables, herbs, and flowers in recycled baker’s boxes, rice bags, Tetra Paks and upcycled pallets. The garden café serves freshly harvested ingredients, to be enjoyed under the treetops and blue sky and potentially forget you are in one of the world’s most bustling cities.
A 6,500 square feet organic rooftop garden, five floors above an old car auction house — Østergro was transformed in 2014 into a buzzing community space with vegetable fields, bees, greenhouses, chickens, rabbits, compost and outdoor kitchen. The restaurant caters to an environmentally conscious crowd hungry for an authentic farm-to-table dining experience amidst lush surroundings. Who says you can’t have the best of both worlds?
🇬🇧London: Growing Underground
Notoriously famed for turning an abandoned WW2 air raid bunker into a dynamic urban farm — with fresh produce now stocked locally in supermarkets across London — this unique concept was brought to fruition in 2015 after successful rounds of crowdfunding. With that much history behind it and a character that is unparalleled, Growing Underground captured our global collective imagination, pushing boundaries of how we can potentially make use of spaces in cities that we had once overlooked.
🇺🇸New York — Brooklyn Grange
Brooklyn Grange operates the world’s largest rooftop soil farms, located on two roofs in New York City, growing over 22,000 kg of organically-cultivated produce per year. They also operate an apiary, keeping bees in over 30 naturally-managed honey bee hives, on roofs dispersed throughout NYC.
In addition to growing and distributing fresh local vegetables and herbs, Brooklyn Grange also hosts events, educational programming, provides urban farming and green roof consulting and installation services to promote healthy and strong local communities. Their produce can be found in some of NYC’s finest restaurants and retailers.
🇸🇬Singapore: Sky Greens
Sky Greens is the world’s first low carbon, hydraulic driven vertical farm that uses green urban solutions to achieve production of safe, fresh and delicious vegetables. It harnesses gravity and rainwater while using minimal land, water and energy resources. The frames raise up to 9 meters tall with 38 tiers of growing trough and implements an innovative rotating system which ensures the plants receive uniform sunlight, irrigation, and nutrients as they pass through different points in the structure. A staggering 800 kg of vegetables is produced everyday!
🇯🇵Tokyo: Pasona Building
In possibly what could be termed as the world’s first large scale farm-to-desk concept, Pasona Building in Tokyo - a 43,000 sqft haven brimming with vegetables, rice and fruit (over 200 species!) is a self-sustaining eco-office that manages to feed its employees at lunchtime through this unique urban farming vision. Located near Tokyo Station, the building, which houses a HR company, has a eye-catching green living facade and implements an efficient and environmentally friendly design that reduces energy usage. Aside from actively involving office workers with the farming processes in-house, they also educate Japan’s next generation of farmers in food production.