New Ideas for Urban Food Production:

The majority of the world today lives in urban areas. This proportion is growing rapidly, and by the year 2050 city dwellers are expected to number 6 billion, 70 per cent of the world’s population. As city life becomes progressively dominant, we become increasingly distant from our food sources – a trend that has profound implications in terms of both food security and environmental impact. On average, major cities import 6,000 tons of food each day, with an average distance of 1,700 miles between grower and consumer. These statistics convey two key points: urban populations are very much disconnected from their food sources, and agricultural delivery systems are strongly dependent on renewable fossil fuels.

These prototypes are a response to inefficiencies of current systems, and aim to empower urban dwellers to produce food in their everyday lives. Designed as affordable and easy-to-use, these units inhabit under-utilized spaces within the dense city environment toward the cultivation of food.

Sill Farm: using natural daylight from window

Designed for the compact city apartment, the Sill Farm fits into a standard residential window sill. The aquaponic unit features a small greenhouse that sits on the window sill and a suspended fish tank that provides organic nutrients for the plants. In turn, the plant life filters the toxic fish waste. The system optimizes the available natural light, thereby lowering power requirements.

Sill Farm: built prototype

This is a the first built prototype of the Sill Farm, displayed at an exhibition at Columbia University in May. As we did not have access to welding equipment or custom glazing, we adapted the design for wood and plexiglass construction. 

The same unit was also featured at an exhibition on the Science Barge in Yonkers, New York, in June.

Light Farm: a concept for integrating farming with city infrastructure

With over 300,000 street lights in New York City, Light Farm envisions new productive use for the light pole. 

Elevated 8 feet above the sidewalk, these growing units would be maintained and harvested by an existing system of city employes who already maintain other green spaces, collect waste, and clean streets. 

Trucks may be fitted for easy access to the units, while other employees empty nearby garbage cans, water plants, and perform other maintenance in the area. 

We believe it is essential that new municipal and infrastructural system develop to support new urban farming initiatives.

Tray Farm: a concept for making use of vacant space

The modular Tray Farm is a concept for filling vacant apartments with portable hydroponic units designed for standard hallways, doors, and elevators.

Current estimates for vacancies in New York City are as high as 26 million square feet for office space and 45 million square feet for residential space. Combined, this empty space could feed thousands of hungry New Yorkers. 

In this model, a landlord could apply to receive growing units if they have long-standing vacancies. This would provide some income for the landlord, and there is the potential to offer tax credits as incentive.

In the case that a vacancy is filled by a new tenant, the growing units can be easily moved within hours.

Desk Farm: a concept for productive furniture

Recent studies link a visual connection to nature with increased production in the 
work place. A majority of people working in offices occupy windowless cubicles. Imagine the possibility of increased production in the workplace, coupled with harvesting lunch from your own Desk Farm.

The energy-efficient LED lights and extremely small pump would use much less energy than almost every other electronic equipment in the standard office.

Bench Farm: a concept for productive furniture

The Bench Farm is a concept model that looks to hybridize typical furniture with food production, transforming the underside of a bench into a productive aquaponic system.