Why Urban Farms and Indoor Planting Are the Future?
Do you know what urban farms are? Have you ever thought about growing your own food at home in your garden or in specialized freezers? Transporting food for consumption in cities is one of the major environmental (and financial) pollution problems in the world today.
In a 2020 interview with Trip magazine, indigenous leader Ailton Krenak made the following observation that caught my attention: “Whatever you consume in the city, you do not produce in the city. It was there that the children’s idea that milk comes from a small box was born, because they don’t see the cow. And that water comes from the faucet, or the bottle, because they don’t see the source.”
If every city in the world produced 10% of its food indoors, it would allow 34,000 m2 of land to be returned to forests every year. — Dickson Despommier, Columbia Professor of Public Health and Microbiology
Have you ever thought that the apple you eat could have come from thousands of miles away or even from another country? A giant cost of gasoline, packaging, distribution for a fruit?
In addition, we also lose the connection with food and nature. It is not uncommon to find children who do not know that potatoes grow underground and that nuts come from cashew seeds. When we don’t know where what we eat comes from, we don’t value what we have on our plate.
The World’s Largest Urban Farm
With this in mind, the current mayor of Paris, Ana Hidalgo, has just opened the largest urban rooftop farm in the world in the French capital. The project reinforces the thesis that large amounts of healthy food can be grown on a 100% urban farm and in a community way.
Urban agriculture projects aim to bring more green areas to cities by using building roofs for growing vegetables.
The urban farm in Paris is approximately 14,000 square meters and has more than 30 different species of plants that will use organic farming methods. Parisians have the opportunity to rent out areas for their own vegetable gardens. There are 135 one-square-meter plots available for rent. The annual rental price is 320 euros, but come on, how much do you spend on vegetables per year?
If you do not want to rent a lot, you can also buy vegetables through a certified collection point, reducing the need for transport to areas far from the city.
Food Studio is a branch of Ideo, a company specialized in design solutions, which seeks to rethink people’s relation with food and its impact on cities and the environment.
In a recent interview with CityLab, the project’s lead designers see the future of food as collaborative: communities will buy and grow food together in schemes much like urban farms, and will distribute this ready-to-eat food among them. One part will do the planting and the other will cook for those who need to work or study.
Very similar to what our ancestors did in the Neolithic period. A return to the past? I see this as survival for the future.
In fact, this view fits a lot with the research that we have already talked about here about how collaborative and community strategies will ensure survival in times of a pandemic at the expense of large distributions and corporations.
This would also guarantee food for a large part of the population, which does not have access to supermarkets and large food distributors, through government programs to donate seeds to be planted on roofs and rooftops.
There are also several companies working with indoor planting strategies, that is, growing food in homemade “refrigerators”, inside houses and apartments.
Startups like Willo have already been thinking about strategies for how to grow food indoors with closed vertical farms, which can later be operated in condominiums or buildings, supplying a local community.
Another company in the same field is Infarm, which together with IDEO built a vertical homemade farm using the concept of “farming as a service”. Through a monthly subscription plan, people can have their little farm monitored and will receive seeds and fertilizer at home in packages to take care of the plants according to their nutritional needs.
IDEO has even been rethinking how kitchen interiors might change if these initiatives really start to succeed. Compact and extremely functional kitchens adapted for the reuse and treatment of freshly harvested products can become a trend.
- What other strategies can we think of to improve food distribution and cultivation?
- How will these services impact the architecture?
- What other initiatives can you think of to take advantage of land and roofs in your city?
- How can architects and designers rethink food and its spaces?