6 places where soil-less farming is revolutionizing how we grow food

January 12, 2018 by  
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If it seems like “ hydroponics ” is everywhere, that’s because it is. Hydroponic farming is one efficient way to grow fruits and vegetables in small spaces without the use of soil. Instead of dirt, plants grow down into water to which farmers have added the necessary nutrients for plant growth. These are then absorbed, along with water, through a plant’s roots. Light is provided either by the sun or specially designed grow lights, with many sustainable systems powered from renewable energy sources. Aquaponic farming, also known as “ aquaponics ,” incorporates fish into the soil-less system, using the closed-loop nutrient cycle from fish digestion to their advantage. Some systems even feed nutrients to plants through the air! From water-less deserts to the sun-less underground, soil-less farming is offering new possibilities to feed an increasingly urban, growing global population in a more Earth-friendly way. 1. Stores With consumers increasingly conscious of their environmental impact, many stores have realized that going green is good for business. Big-box store Target began a series of trials in spring 2017 in which vertical, hydroponic gardens were installed in various Target locations to provide customers with the freshest possible produce. In collaboration with MIT Media Lab and Ideo, Target designed a system that is capable of growing leafy greens and herbs with minimal water usage. The company hopes to someday branch out into other crops, such as potatoes, zucchini and beets. MIT may even offer Target use of rare heirloom tomato seeds for its project. Meanwhile, IKEA has teamed up with Denmark-based SPACE10 to design high-tech hydroponics systems in-stores and in homes. 2. Deserts In preparation for a future dominated by climate change, in which oil becomes a lesser part of the world’s energy diet, Saudi Arabia has taken several major steps to build a more sustainable system in its challenging desert region. One such move is the rethinking of many traditional farming practices, especially focused on reducing water usage. A farm in the town of Jeddah uses neither water nor soil, rooting plants in mid-air while providing their nutrients through a mist. Designed by AeroFarms , the system is the first aeroponic farm in the Middle East and hopes to someday acquire all its water needs through capturing humidity in the air. Related: The future of food: how dry farming could save the world If a desert farm chooses to go hydroponic, there are ways to grow without draining freshwater supplies. In arid South Australia, SunDrops Farms grows 15% of the country’s tomato crop through a solar-powered hydroponic system. To eliminate the use of precious freshwater, SunDrops sources its water from the nearby saltwater gulf, which is then desalinated through the reflected heat of the sun. In a very different kind of desert, soil-less farming helps growers from the Arctic to Antarctica make the most of a short growing season. 3. Cities As the global population becomes more urban, cities are investing in more local food production systems that offer economic development opportunities and reduce a city’s carbon footprint. In a warehouse on the Near East Side of Indianapolis, Farm 360 are growing vegetables on a hydroponic system that is exclusively powered by renewable energy and uses 90 percent less water than traditional farming methods. The harvest is sold in local grocery stores while the farm supports dozens of living-wage jobs to residents of the neighborhood. In even the most isolated urban areas, soil-less farming finds a home. With its ability to receive vital supplies and support a functioning economy severely restricted by the Israeli blockade, Gaza has stepped out onto the rooftops to grow its own food. Beginning in 2010, a United Nations-funded urban agriculture program equipped over 200 female-headed households with fish tanks, equipment, and supplies to build and maintain an aquaponics growing system. This initial spark has encouraged others to create their own and to teach others of this valuable skill. 4. The Underground Farming without soil can often take place beneath the soil. In Paris, Cycloponics  runs La Caverne, a unique urban farm that grows mushrooms and vegetables in an underground, formerly abandoned parking garage . The farm’s hydroponics system uses special grow lights to ensure the vegetables have what they need to survive. The mushrooms grow in a special medium and, through their respiration, provide valuable CO2 for the plants to thrive. La Caverne may have found inspiration from Growing Underground , London’s first underground farm . On 2.5 acres of unused World War II-era tunnels, Growing Underground produces pea shoots, several varieties of radish, mustard, cilantro, Red Amaranth, celery, parsley, and arugula. Related: 7 agricultural innovations that could save the world Honorable mention: shipping container farms. Although these may be mobilized on the surface, they may as well be underground due to the closed roof of most shipping containers. The solar-powered hydroponicsLA-based Local Roots  can grow the same amount of vegetables, at cost parity, with 99 percent less water than traditional farming. 5. On the Water Some soil-less growing operations take it a step further, leaving the ground behind entirely and opting for a farm floating on water. Barcelona-based design group  Forward Thinking Architecture  has proposed a progressive solution to the decreasing availability of arable land by creating floating, solar-powered farms . Using modules that measure 200 meters by 350 meters, Forward Thinking’s design allows for expansion and custom configuration of farms. Each module has three levels: a desalinization and aquaculture level at the bottom, then a hydroponic farming level, topped off by a level of solar panels and rainwater collection. The company estimates that each module would produce 8,152 tons of vegetables a year and 1,703 tons of fish annually. Related: NexLoop unveils water management system inspired by spiders, fungi, bees and plants Greenwave takes an alternative approach to soil-less, floating farming by combining the cultivation of shellfish and seaweed , both profitable crops that also help to clean the aquatic environment and absorb greenhouse gases. The farm requires little external input, pulls carbon dioxide from the air and water, and consumes excess nitrogen that could otherwise result in algal blooms and dead zones. 6. Your Home Yes, you too could get in on the soil-less action. Whether you prefer to DIY or you’d rather something more straightforward , there are options for every style . Lead image via Depositphotos , others via MIT OpenAg , Sundrop Farms , Esther Boston ,  Cycloponics , GreenWave , and Urban Leaf

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6 places where soil-less farming is revolutionizing how we grow food

Taste the future with IKEAs SPACE10 LOKAL hydroponic food pop-up in London

September 12, 2017 by  
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Ever wondered what the future of food looks like? IKEA’s SPACE10 lab believes food production will be smarter and more efficient, and they’re going to show us how with their LOKAL pop up in Shoreditch. Set to launch during the London Design Festival next week, the six-day LOKAL pop-up will be an interactive public event that lets the public “enjoy a taste of the future” with their high-tech hydroponics farm and gastronomic workshops that sustainably serve up delicious and nutritious food, right where it’s grown. Hydroponics is at the heart of LOKAL. The highlight of the pop-up will be a hydroponics farming system with artificial lights and computerized automation that grows food optimized for freshness, nutrients, and taste. SPACE10’s system can grow vegetables three times faster than traditional methods with 90 percent less water, less waste, and without the need for soil and sunlight in a much more space-efficient footprint. Modified LED lights allow for year-round indoor growing and the system will be run solely on renewable energy in the future. In addition, smart sensors on the system facilitate machine learning so that healthier food can be grown faster while the data is fed into Google Home. “People [can] basically talk to the plants and hear how they are doing, if they need anything or simply let kids and grownups learn about sustainable food,” said Simon Caspersen of SPACE10. Related: Incredible Algae Dome absorbs sun and CO2 to produce superfood and oxygen The six-day LOKAL pop-up program is open to the public and features five parts with a mixture of hosts starting with SPACE10’s LOKAL Salads, where visitors can find a futuristic salad bar that provides meals of hydroponic microgreens topped with delicious locally sourced ingredients. Hirsch & Mann will host the tactile Meet Your Greens section that playfully educates about the benefits of locally sourced food and hydroponics. Technology Will Save Us ’ Grow Your Greens Workshop is a hands-on activity for kids where they’ll learn to grow their own take-away plant hydroponically. The Food Preservation Workshop hosted by Farmdrop focuses on the latter half of the food cycle with lessons on reducing food waste and how fermentation preserves food. SPACE10 will also host SPROUT, an experiment to make local farming more accessible to people with voice technology. The LOKAL pop-up will run September 18 to September 23—you can find more details on their Facebook event page . + LOKAL Pop up + SPACE10 Images via SPACE10

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Taste the future with IKEAs SPACE10 LOKAL hydroponic food pop-up in London

40-foot shipping container farm can grow 5 acres of food with 97% less water

July 11, 2017 by  
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Communities that have to ship in fresh food from far away could start getting local produce right from their parking lots or warehouses thanks to Local Roots ‘ shipping container farms . The 40-foot containers house hydroponic farms that only draw on five to 20 gallons of water each day to grow produce like lettuce, strawberries, or kale. Popping up all around the United States, these scalable farms “grow far more produce than any other indoor farming solution on the market” according to co-founder Dan Kuenzi. Local Roots is even talking with SpaceX about using their farms in space . Local Roots’ 40-foot shipping container farms, called TerraFarms, grow produce twice as fast as a traditional farm , all while using 97 percent less water and zero pesticides or herbicides. They can grow as much food as could be grown on three to five acres. They’re able to do this thanks to LED lights tuned to specific wavelengths and intensities, and sensor systems monitoring water, nutrient, and atmospheric conditions. Related: Pop-up shipping container farm puts a full acre of lettuce in your backyard The process from setup to first harvest takes only around four weeks. TerraFarms can be stacked and connected to the local grid. CEO Eric Ellestad said in a video 30 million Americans live in food deserts , and their farms could be placed right in communities that most need the food. Los Angeles is already home to a farm with several shipping containers, and a similar one will be coming to Maryland this year. It could offer local food like strawberries in January. And Local Roots’ technology could one day allow astronauts to consume fresh produce in space. Their growing systems could offer a food source on long-term, deep space missions. Ellestad told The Washington Post, “The opportunities are global and intergalactic at the same time.” + Local Roots Via The Washington Post Images via Local Roots Facebook

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40-foot shipping container farm can grow 5 acres of food with 97% less water

Airbnb and Pantone create a hidden nature-filled home in London

February 1, 2017 by  
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Airbnb teamed up with Pantone to create a magical nature-filled wonderland in the heart of the London. Inspired by the Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year called 15-0343 Greenery, the “Outside In” House is a secret indoor garden listed on Airbnb’s home-sharing site for overnight stays. The transformation of a brick Clerkenwell building into a lush greenhouse-like oasis is stunning—keep reading to see how the creative companies let lucky renters spend the night in color. Pantone’s pick for the Color of the Year 2017, called Greenery, is a bright yellow-green shade symbolic of new beginnings that evokes images of budding plants in springtime. The ‘Outside In’ House was created to let people “live the color” starting with its eye-catching door, designed to look like a Pantone Greenery swatch card. The door swings open to reveal a slice of a woodland forest for the reception area, with live ferns, moss , grass, and trees planted beside stepping stones made of tree stumps. “As guests cross the earthy threshold, they will be fully immersed in the outside, in,” says the Airbnb press release. “They will be greeted by the house ‘groundskeeper’ with a fresh and healthy green juice, made locally and color-matched to PANTONE 15-0343 Greenery. As they leave they can rest assured that the house is environmentally green too; all materials will be recycled where possible and spare plants will be donated to community gardens .” In addition to the woodland reception, the two-bedroom Greenery flat included an indoor greenhouse that doubled as a dining room, garden-like bedrooms with real turf as carpets, topiaries, soporific plants, a teepee for children, a hydroponics installation, a rainforest-themed bathroom, and a kitchen with walls filled with live vegetables and herbs available for guests to pick. A soothing soundtrack with nature sounds accompanies the lush, nature-filled environment. The flat accommodated families of up to four people a night. Related: Airbnb invites visitors to experience Finnish cabin life in Paris The temporary Outside-In house welcomed guests for £200 a night from January 27 to January 30, and was also open for free visits during those three days. All proceeds were donated to the American Institute of Graphic Arts . The unique Airbnb home, hosted by Pantone, was located at 4 Dingley Place, Clerkenwell. + Outside-In House

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Airbnb and Pantone create a hidden nature-filled home in London

One-of-a-kind floating plaza in Palm Beach lets you walk on water

November 2, 2016 by  
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The project aims to transform a vacant area on the coast of Lake Worth Lagoon in West Palm Beach, Florida , and create a new complex that includes housing units, retail spaces and various leisure facilities. Visitors will be able to stroll from the West Palm Beach city center directly into the middle of the lagoon and relax on a unique floating plaza. Related: Brockholes: UK’s First Floating Nature Reserve Is Now Open For Exploration The project utilizes the technology employed in the design of underwater vessels-a system of responsive air chambers that enable buoyancy. A series of public spaces, including a restaurant serving food made with hydroponically grown produce, a circular pool, an auditorium , and a water plaza. + Carlo Ratti Associati

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One-of-a-kind floating plaza in Palm Beach lets you walk on water

This massive farm grows 15% of Australia’s tomatoes without soil, fresh water or fossil fuels

October 24, 2016 by  
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Did you know there is a way to grow tons of fresh fruits and vegetables with saltwater and solar energy ? The good people at SunDrop Farms are doing just that with their Australian operation, where they grow 15 percent of the nation’s tomatoes. Seawater is piped in from a nearby gulf, desalinated using the reflected heat of the sun , and sprinkled on hydroponically grown produce in a revolutionary, renewable cycle of production. SunDrop Farms’ operation is fossil fuel -free, freshwater-free, and soil-free, eliminating the need for some of the most financially and environmentally costly elements in the agriculture business. The company told Aljazeera their sustainable method of growing produce slashes “26,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide ” and 180 Olympic-sized swimming pools of fresh water each year, which is just what a rapidly growing population needs to offset human demand on Mother Earth. Related: Solar-powered Ring Garden marries desalination and agriculture for drought-stricken California A field of mirrors surround a massive solar tower, which reflect the sun onto this central point. The tower heats up to provide a steady temperature for the greenhouses and to desalinate one million liters of seawater per day. The tomatoes on their Australian farm are grown hydroponically in coconut coir and 15,000 tonnes are sold exclusively to the local Coles grocery chain every year. SunDrop Farms has locations in Australia, the UK, and the US and hopes to expand “cutting-edge, sustainable technology” to other locales in the near future. +SunDrop Farms Via Aljazeera Images via SunDrop Farms

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This massive farm grows 15% of Australia’s tomatoes without soil, fresh water or fossil fuels

#SmallSteps: Homegrown With Hydroponics

June 12, 2015 by  
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Do not adjust your screen!  That reddish pink glow is the fascinating world of hydroponics and Earth911TV has all the red hot details on this exciting indoor food production concept. Watch as we interview Food 3.0 at Earth Day Texas.  According to…

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Freight Farms are super efficient hydroponic farms built inside shipping containers

March 17, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Freight Farms are super efficient hydroponic farms built inside shipping containers Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: energy efficient farming , farming app , Freight Farms , green technology , hydroponic farm , hydroponics , retrofitted shipping containers , shipping containers , Urban Farming

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Freight Farms are super efficient hydroponic farms built inside shipping containers

This vertical farm will provide Wyoming residents with 100,000lbs of fresh produce each year

March 9, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of This vertical farm will provide Wyoming residents with 100,000lbs of fresh produce each year Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: e/ye design , food security , greenhouse , hydroponics , LEDs , local produce , sustainable food , urban agriculture , Urban Farming , vertical farm , vertical farming , vertical harvest , water issues , wyoming

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This vertical farm will provide Wyoming residents with 100,000lbs of fresh produce each year

The World’s Largest Indoor Farm Produces 10,000 Heads of Lettuce a Day in Japan

July 11, 2014 by  
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A former Sony Corporation semiconductor factory in Japan has been converted into the world’s largest indoor farm. Japanese plant physiologist Shigeharu Shimamura, CEO of Mirai Co. , partnered with GE Japan to make his dream of a water, space and energy efficient indoor farming system a reality. Despite having only started production a year ago, the farm is already shipping out 10,000 heads of lettuce per day. Read the rest of The World’s Largest Indoor Farm Produces 10,000 Heads of Lettuce a Day in Japan Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: agriculture , energy efficient food production , factory conversion , farming , food production , food waste , GE , GE Japan , general electric , hydroponics , indoor farm , indoor farm lighting , Japan , LEDs , lettuce , Mirai , Shigeharu Shimamura , world’s largest indoor farm

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The World’s Largest Indoor Farm Produces 10,000 Heads of Lettuce a Day in Japan

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