French designer Damien Chivialle has created a self-regulating city farm called an Urban Farm Unit (UFU) that makes use of an old shipping container and requires no more space than a parking spot to install.
The world’s population will reach eight billion in 2030, five billion of which will be city-dwellers. To alleviate the increasing demand for food by our growing population and to minimise the distances traveled to obtain it, Chivialle sought to provide fresh organic food to the surrounding local community.
A UFU can be set up anywhere space provides. Inside the transportable containers, fish, vegetables and fruit are produced at street level to be enjoyed by the community. Each unit can produce food for around 50 people. If the fish are fed organic feed, the whole unit produces completely organic food.
Each unit is designed using an industrial greenhouse, open-top container and a hydroponic system, and is easily adaptable to various situations and space allocations.
The shared garden uses hydroponics and micro-methanation growth technology to achieve high yields from a small area.
The above-ground unit employs aquaponics and traditional cultivation methods. A pool of fresh-water fish in two cubic metres of water sits in the middle of the unit. Flowing through a closed circuit, their excrement is collected and broken down by bacteria into minerals.
The mineral water is then pumped through the pipes which the plant roots are submerged in, resulting in no need for additional fertiliser.
A highly environmentally-friendly system, there is no water waste whatsoever. The water gets filtered by the plants and then flows back to the fish tank.
Water is heated through methane combustion and produces energy to operate the water pump. The greenhouse receives the CO2 produced in the combustion to encourage plant growth.
If several units are installed, the urban farm could also implement a biogas plant to recycle the neighbourhood’s organic waste.
Chivialle suggests using the methane from the purification tank to run an alternate generator.
Despite the fact that cities do not have large areas of land on which food can be produced, Chivialle envisions urban farm units solving the typical urban issues of limited space and pollution, allowing city-dwellers to engage in food cultivation. There is a growing desire for locally grown food, and urban farms dispersed throughout a city can provide a solution. Three urban farms are currently in operation in Zurich, Berlin and Brussels.