These modular, hydroponic micro-farms highlight the future of high-tech urban ag

Cityblooms' urban agriculture solution is a high-tech approach to hyperlocal sustainable produce. They call it "The Internet of Farms™"

In urban areas, where space is at a premium, local food production takes quite a different shape than in the suburbs or country, where large lots and open spaces are the norm. For urban agriculture, growing space is where you find it, which might be a vacant lot in one instance, or a rooftop in another, or perhaps in an old factory or inside a shipping container.

For those who don't own their own space, or whose growing space is made up of a bunch of smaller spaces, or if all that there's room for is a rooftop garden (but not enough room for an entire rooftop farm or a green roof), then one possible solution might be to use something like this modular growing solution, from Cityblooms.

© CitybloomsThe Cityblooms micro-farms, which are designed to fit around and within existing structures (which makes them a great fit for smaller underutilized spaces in the city), are built around a completely automated closed-loop hydroponic growing system that is highly water-efficient (up to 70-80% more water-efficient than conventional agriculture) and are said to be easy to operate.

"... a cluster of 10 cultivation units (400 ft2 of growing area) can grow 50-60 lbs of fresh greens a week if an efficient crop such as green pea microgreens (“Pea Shoots”) are cultivated. Similarly, a cluster of 16 Cultivation Units can produce roughly 5 tons of lettuce per year." - Cityblooms

The control and sensor systems of the Cityblooms units, which monitor and adjust everything from temperature to humidity to nutrient levels, connect to a cloud-based interface, allowing for users to monitor and control the growing systems from a remote device, while the embedded software serves to also keep track of harvests (crop traceability), as well as to schedule maintenance and sanitation tasks.

According to an interview at Grist, the company currently has one working farm at a hardware company in Santa Cruz, where the Cityblooms team grows, harvests, and then transports the fresh produce to the company cafe, at a cost similar to farmer's market prices.

One key element of the Cityblooms system is that it's designed to be easily installed and removed, so instead of having to plan for a major engineering and construction project (such as for a large greenhouse or rooftop farm), all that's required is a little bit of space, some water, and access to power cord. In addition, in order to minimize the regulatory challenges to putting these micro-farms on roofs, Cityblooms also designed them to be able to use the same support structures currently being used for rooftop solar arrays, which already comply with the necessary engineering requirements.

Find out more about what Cityblooms is up to at their website.

Tags: Farming | Local Food

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