Urban farms are becoming increasingly popular in cities around the world. Sustainable farming models are now being cultivated in a diverse range of urban spaces, from rooftops to within tall, enclosed buildings. These innovative growing methods prioritize sustainability, which plays a key role in making sure that our urban creations have the least negative impact on the environment. Here are 5 ways to maximize sustainability in your urban farm.
1. Rooftop Farming
One literally ‘top’ trend in urban agriculture is rooftop farming. This method makes clever use of an urban space that is typically unused and has been praised for its positive environmental impact. Rooftop farms provide extra insulation for buildings, lower temperatures in summer and maintain heat in the winter. These factors translate to less use of heating and cooling systems, which saves significant amounts of energy and money.
Plants grown on rooftops capture moisture in the air, which means that rooftop farms also help reduce the stormwater flow that can pollute waterways and overwhelm sewage treatment facilities.
2. Vertical farming
Vertical farms produce crops in vertical layers in a controlled environment. Most vertical farms are created with tall enclosed structures, using height to maximize growth. This innovative approach to urban farming can help to maintain crop production all year round, without relying on favorable weather conditions, soil fertility, or excessive water use.
Establishing vertical farms in urban areas can ultimately help to create a more sustainable environment by contributing to less abandoned buildings, a cleaner atmosphere, better water conservation, and a positive impact on the health of the surrounding communities.
3. Shipping Container Farming
Recently, using shipping containers as urban farms has become increasingly popular. There is an abundance of shipping containers that are left unused every year, free to be used as indoor farms. These steel structures are durable, versatile, portable and stackable: ready to be placed as a container farm on any site with a strong, level surface.
The versatility of shipping containers provides a range of opportunities to create an enclosed ‘farm’ in any location, from your backyard to corporate campuses. Compared to traditional fixed structures, container farms can be set up in a relatively short period of time.
4. Hydroponic Systems
Innovative new growing techniques have played a key role in the sustainability of urban farming. Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants without soil, a technique commonly used in vertical farming. This method has been shown to have some environmental benefits.
The controlled and closed environment of hydroponic systems usually eliminates the need for pesticides, meaning less poisonous chemicals on the food and plants grown. Hydroponic systems can also recycle water and nutrients, putting less strain on water systems. This sustainable style of growing has become a top choice for many large-scale greenhouses.
5. Using Aquaponic Systems
Aquaponics is one of the most sustainable methods of urban agriculture. Simply put, this method combines traditional aquaculture with hydroponics. Many farmers have embraced this method to become more environmentally responsible and promote good health within their local communities.
Aquaponic systems can grow many types of food without consuming too many resources. Only a few pieces of equipment in this method actually require power – and in most systems, the water is circulated rather than disposed of after use. Using this style of indoor urban farming, you can ultimately grow more food while using less water, labor and land.
Maia Fletcher is a freelance writer who loves sharing tips on travel and lifestyle. She is an advocate for eco-friendly, sustainable living – starting with avoiding disposable plastics as much as possible at home. She is based in the beautiful and sun-kissed city of Gisborne, New Zealand.