Photos: Window Farms
With city space at a premium and urban sprawl devouring previously prime agriculture land, vertical farming has been touted as one possible solution to the metropolitan masses. We've covered many of the grand schemes, most of which are likely to remain no more than stylish computer renderings of an architect's skyscrapery wet dreams.
Window Farms take the vertical farming notion and make it both real, and more human scale. Whether they are more functional art than a real direction forward for urban agriculture is a matter for conjecture. But at least the prototypes are out there growing stuff, which is way more than can be said for a CAD rendering.
Artists Britta Riley and Rebecca Bray have seeded (so to speak) their idea to 15 New Yorkers to see if the concept can indeed put down real roots, if you'll pardon the pun. You can join in the experiment too, as Britta and Rebecca have posted online details of how to make your own Window Farm. In fact this is a core element of the project -- to grow enthusiaism for the apartment farming in a viral like manner. They see it as environmental innovation through web 2.0 crowdsourcing and apparently the participating public have already submitted about 30 unique viable design improvements.
A shame that electric light is shown as being used during the daytime on the installations they've done so far. Hopefully the idea still works with good old carbon-free sunlight.
In basic terms window farming is hydroponics, in that plant nutrients are mixed in a thin soup that is then transported from a floor level reservoir, via a pool pump, to the plants suspended on a wire cable framework. Water from the top plants drip feeds, with the able assistance of gravity, the lower plants. (Not all that dissimilar to how seeds and beans grow in layered sprouting trays.)
The plants (about 25 to the basic set-up) are housed in recycled plastic drink bottles. So far beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, arugula, basil, lettuce and kale seem to have embraced the notion of growing in windows.
Britta and Rebecca point out that many low income city neighborhoods are bereft of fresh food cultivation. They believe the Window Farm project offers direct personal involvement for urban dwellers estranged from agricultural issues.
This is not their first foray into rethinking urban farming. A previous project had them providing kits help help folk turn urine in to plant fertiliser.
This video from CoolHunting gives an indication of how the Window Farms design is intended to work.
And of course you can get along to their website for much more information.
:: Window Farms
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