The urban farming supply stores point to an increasing professional attitude among the newest generation of urban farmers. In Rotterdam, the Uit je eigen stad project combines a large-scale urban farm on a derelict lot with a restaurant and shop. This way the food produced on the former industrial area is sold and an income for the farmer’s family is ensured. The farm has a serious business model and also a marketing manager in the staff. The main elements in their business model are a shop and a restaurant on the spot that serve the city with local food. Also in cities like Detroit (where it all started) urban farms get bigger and more professional. The Earthworks Urban Farm is said to be world’s biggest urban farm.
Not only vacant lots are used to urban farm, but the farming trend also extends to (empty) office buildings and urban rooftops. In Tokyo, PASONA 02 is a high-tech urban farm in the basement of an office building in Tokyo’s Otemachi business district. We also stumbled upon a couple of urban rooftop farms that are run very professionally. In Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Grange urban rooftop farm claims to be the largest urban rooftop farm in the world, providing the local community with real organically produced vegetables and fruits. With over two acres of rooftop under cultivation in Brooklyn and Queens, Brooklyn Grange has sold over 40,000 lbs of veggies to restaurants, CSA members and the public via weekly farm stands. But the farm has expanded beyond its mission to grow vegetables — it currently keeps egg-laying chickens and it has launched a commercial apiary, cultivating bees for their honey. Brooklyn, by the way, could be considered the international capital of urban farming. Besides Brooklyn Grange it also accommodates the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Greenpoint and Gotham Greens, a rooftop farm which consists of sterile greenhouses that produce over 80 tons of premium quality produce, year-round.
Talking large-scale city farming from an entrepreneurial point of view, Lufa Farms in Montreal is interesting. The farm has built a 31,000-square-foot greenhouse on top of a two-story building. Over 40 different crops are being produced year round in the rather innovative greenhouses that can even stand the snow in the Canadian winters. Lufa Farms is currently looking to expand its activities to the United States and find a way to upscale its urban farming business.
Also the rise of new and more complicated forms of produce point to the the professionalization of urban farming. 2012 was the year of the Aquaponics, a self-organizing system of growing vegetables and fish at the same time. Besides small-scale installations, this has also led to bigger initiatives, like this aquaponics rooftop farm in Berlin. Also in Tokyo an urban rooftop farm produces rice in traditional wet circumstances. In addition, urban farming has moved to the production of crops like mushrooms and even medicine. Urban farming is becoming serious business.
This article is part of Pop-Up City’s Trends for 2013. Reflecting on what we’ve written in 2012 and looking into the new year, we’ve composed a new list of remarkable trends that we consider to be important for our cities in the coming time. Feel free to contact us in case you want to learn more about our reports.