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Farming In The Urban Landscape

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There is a strange dichotomy between tech and farming. We tend to think that the high tech world is the polar opposite of the rural farming lifestyle, where you’re living off the fruit of your labours. But the truth is that modern farming owes quite a bit to technology advances over the years, from as early as the discovery of iron for farming implements to genetics being used now to create hardier plants that can produce more and in harsher conditions.
That’s not to say that all technological farming advances are good. Hopefully we’re all coming to understand the dangers (and cruelty) inherent in factoring farming of livestock, and there are concerns about health and nutrition risks with some genetically modified foods. But what if you live in a high tech urban society? Is there a way to introduce farming into your lifestyle? Can you feed yourself with the fruit of your own labors too? You’d be surprised at some of the urban farming ideas popping up in large cities around the world – everything from grow it yourself to million dollar rooftop farms. Take a look at some of the innovative city farming ideas that are already happening.
Postcardens
Perfect for anyone stuck in an office all day, Postcardens are little greeting cards that hold a mini-garden inside! Not only is it a birthday card that will be truly memorable, it’s a lovely little patch of green to sit on your desk or window sill. Pre-seeded with cress seeds, they’ll sprout quickly after opening and will last for a couple of weeks – and they’re safe to go through the mail.
Amber’s Garden Mats
Sure, you’d love to have a pretty little garden, but you don’t know much about planting; what to do? These clever pre-planted mats from Amber’s Garden are the perfect solution. You can leave them whole or cut them into smaller sizes to arrange however you like – about a month later, you’ll be ready harvest! There are lots of fun varieties too – try the Asian Salad garden with edamame and snow peas, or the Salsa garden with tomatoes and chilies!
Green Potato
This rooftop farming project from the Japanese telecom company NTT Corp does more than just grow produce – it’s also a green way of helping lower temperatures in the city. Sweet potatoes are a tough crop, and do well in the harsh sun and wind atop Tokyo’s skyscrapers. Their broad leaves also cover the entire surface of the roof, reducing costs for cooling the building. They have the added benefit of cooling the surrounding air through evaporation, which can help reduce the effect of urban heating from all that open concrete. And of course, the mature sweet potatoes are available for local consumption.
Vertical Farming
As the name suggests, this idea consists of building tall, thin hydroponic farms that can fit into locations throughout the city. The idea is that by bringing the farm into the city, you reduce the transportation needs and cut down on emissions. However, hydroponic farming does use huge amounts of water and energy on their own and critics are concerned that in the end they’ll be no more cost effective than traditional farming, however it does save a lot of valuable land space.

Big Box Farms
Not heard of “rack farming” yet? If Big Box Farms has their way, it will be the way of the future. They claim their Farm Rack technology is more than 146 times more efficient than standard land use agriculture. Highly automated and operational all year long, it makes it easier for farmers and retailers to meet demand. They say that the technology also gets rid of contamination and is pesticide free. While they aren’t sharing too many details on just how the system works (the patent is still pending), if it lives up to their promises it could definitely create a much green future for all of us.

Kelly is a crop and planting specialist working for vegetable harvesting and processing company RJ Herbert Engineering. She loves new and innovative farming techniques, and anything that will help improve the efficiancy of the world’s fresh crops.

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