A Farm in a Bomb Shelter

Zero Carbon Food is a new company that has started a farm in downtown London. If that doesn’t sound strange enough, the farm is a in a bomb shelter.

The company is using hydroponics and other modern technological approaches to food harvesting in order to make food even more local for Londoners. Has shipping costs and the time it takes to transport food increases there will be growing demand for urban farms.

Hopefully we’ll see even more hydroponic farms in dense urban centres soon!

The subterranean farm is optimized for growing crops like pea shoots, coriander, mustard leaf, rocket, radish and garlic chive: small, leafy greens with a short growth cycle – made even shorter through careful manipulation of the environment. Unlike outdoor fields at the mercy of variable weather, Zero Carbon Food can deliver a consistent product all year round. (A consistency that attracted at least one inquiry from an entrepreneurial druglord seeking a discreet cannabis farm).

The plants are picked and packed by hand in another part of the tunnel before distribution to restaurants, caterers and retailers under the brand Growing Underground. It’s already partnered with hyper-local food delivery company Farmdrop and is in discussions with supermarket Whole Foods.

Read more.

Really Cool Aquaponics Setup in Oakland

Oakland California is not known for farming let alone technologically-driven hydroponics. Kijani Grows is a small company in Oakland that is trying to change this with a system of cycling water through fish, gravel, and plants to create a very efficient farming setup in a small space. What makes this system better than others is that it is integrated to modern electronics so you’ll get notifications when you should water or harvest the plants!

Check out this video of their system:

The land in West Oakland where Eric Maundu is trying to farm is covered with freeways, roads, light rail and parking lots so there’s not much arable land and the soil is contaminated. So Maundu doesn’t use soil. Instead he’s growing plants using fish and circulating water.
It’s called aquaponics- a gardening system that combines hydroponics (water-based planting) and aquaculture (fish farming). It’s been hailed as the future of farming: it uses less water (up to 90% less than traditional gardening), doesn’t attract soil-based bugs and produces two types of produce (both plants and fish).

Via Reddit.

Hydroponics in Schools

In urban centres where the land has been used for buildings and other infrastructure there is little room for production farms, so how do we teach children about farming? Well, we can use hydroponics to grow plants and help people understand why plants and food are so great.

A school in New York City has installed a hydroponic greenhouse that makes use of rainwater to grow plants for their school.

There’s no soil in a hydroponic greenhouse, which captures and recirculates rainwater to the roots of plants. In capable hands — though maybe not in 5-year-old hands — the 1,400-square-foot structure can produce up to 8,000 pounds of vegetables every year. It is an experiment in environmental education its founders hope will be replicated in schools citywide.

Two mothers at the school, Sidsel Robards and Manuela Zamora, founded the greenhouse, inspired in 2008 by a trip to the Science Barge, a floating urban farm docked in Yonkers. They got New York Sun Works, the nonprofit green-design group that built the barge, interested enough to execute the greenhouse, a bright, open and wheelchair-accessible space, covered by glass and entered from the school’s third floor, that is essentially the Barge on a roof.

It includes a rainwater catchment system, a weather station, a sustainable air conditioner made of cardboard, a worm-composting center and solar panels. In the center of the room is a system resembling a plant-filled hot tub: an aquaponics system home to a community of tilapia, whose waste is converted into nitrate. The system loses water only when it evaporates to help cool plants, consuming only a tiny fraction of the water that a field of conventional dirt does.

“You basically can have this closed system, this symbiotic thing going on, where plants are eating food, creating waste, you’re converting it and then the plants are taking it up,” said Zak Adams, director of ecological design at BrightFarm Systems, which designed the greenhouse and the barge.

Read the full article at The New York Times.

A Permaculture Garden Pool

Permaculture is the idea of contained sustainable agriculture that requires no external inputs – all energy and required input is generated by the permaculture system. Some enterprising people have turned their backyard swimming pool into a permaculture setup that is based around aquaculture.

Watch the video for some neat views and an explanation of the system. You can also find out more from the garden pool website.

The garden pool combines:

solar power – harnessing and storing the sun’s energy
water conservation – using less water and recycling waste water
poultry farming – raising chickens
aquaculture – raising tilapia fish
hydroponic gardening – growing fruits, veggies, & herbs without soil
organic horticulture – using natural methods to control garden pests
aquaponics – the symbiotic cultivation of produce and fish in a recirculating hydroponic environment.
biofiltration – natural water filtration method using biochemistry and duckweed.

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