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Urban Agriculture: Initiatives Around the World

Arable land in urban environments is scarce leading to entrepreneurs creating innovative solutions to grow food or plants in a confined space. This week, we look at interesting initiatives aiming to increase plants and food in our urban environment in non-traditional ways.

 Sky Greens (Singapore)

Utilizing indoor or outdoor space, vertical farms aim to produce high yields in a limited amount of space. Sky Greens, a company based in Singapore, has created tall glass structures to produce a variety of leafy greens.  Plants are grown on 9 metre tall aluminum towers with multiple levels of planting troughs. The building is translucent allowing for sunlight to enter while plants rotate along the tower for equal access to light. Producing up to 1000 kg of vegetables a day vertical farms, like Sky Greens, may be the way of the future.

Growtainer (Dallas, US)

Growtainers, uses modified shipping containers to produce food. Instead of sunlight, plants are exposed to LED lights and the temperature, humidity, and irrigation are all controlled via a centralized system. CEO, Behrman has created the system as such that it can be monitored and operated remotely via computer or smartphone.

 FARM:shop (London, UK)

FARM:Shop is an urban farm and social enterprise that also aims to build a community for food entrepreneurs. Individuals can rent work space, learn skills from the FARM:shop community, and perfect their dishes prior to launching their enterprise. They can also use ingredients grown on site including, herbs, lettuce, and mushrooms. There is also a chicken coop on the roof for members to use as well. Community members can stop by for brunch at the café that is open on the weekends. Creating a environment where entrepreneurs can try new dishes and residents can support local business and enjoy a nice meal.

Cultivate TO (Toronto)

Cultivate TO is an ingenious idea that allows busy home owners to share their backyards with garden enthusiasts. The food produced is shared among gardeners and home owners. Cultivate TO is a wonderful way for community members to get to know each other and utilize land that would typically not be used.

High Line Park (NYC, US) and Bosco Verticale (Milan, Italy)

New York’s High Line and the Bosco Verticale in Milan are not examples of urban agriculture but how plants can be incorporated into the urban environment to improve the quality of life of its people. The High Line is an elevated park that transformed a disused railroad into a mixed use park. Integrating native plant species into the park illustrates what relics from the previous industries can be used for with a little creativity.

The Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest), is an award winning building in Milan that aims to increase urban biodiversity by integrating plants into the building design. Plants were selected in consultation with a team of botanists and engineers. Many of the benefits noted with the Bosco Verticale design are similar to green roofs including, decreased energy costs and use of storm water.

What do you think? 

With so many rapid changes to the urban environment it will be interesting to see the changes that will take place in London, Ontario. Do you think any of these initiatives could work in the London community?

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