Urban Farmers start a fresh revolution
Urban Farmers is reaping its first harvest from its rooftop greenhouse on a disused office building in The Hague this September. The Swiss-based company hopes to revolutionise farming by growing organic produce close to where most of today’s people live, the city. The project has already been dubbed the Times Square of urban farming.
Image: Space & Matter
Last year the municipality of The Hague awarded UF the opportunity to transform the top floor and the rooftop of a landmark building, De Schilde, built in the 1950s by modernist architect Dirk Roosenburg (grandfather of the world famous Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas). By placing a huge greenhouse with great sky views on the roof and fish tanks on the 6th floor, UF has created Europe’s largest rooftop urban farm. Now it is producing 50 tons of vegetables and 20 tons of fish every year on 1900 m2.
The sky farm is perfectly located just 4 kilometres from the city centre of The Hague and close to Holland’s horticultural ‘silicon valley’, Westland. The proximity of the project to consumers means fresh food travels almost no distance before it reaches the table.
Naturally, UF is eager to ensure its ‘Fresh Revolution’ produces good food in every aspect. It has the know how to create optimal conditions so that no pesticides, herbicides or antibiotics are required and the fish enjoy a good life.
State of the art technology has been applied to ancient techniques like aquaponics, in which everything produced in the process is reused. So fertilizer from the discharged wastewater is used to grow crops (hydroponics) and the water is filtered by the plants to go back into the fish tanks (aquaponics). In this way the company aims to reduce the quantity of water required by 90 percent and bring its waste down to zero.
The company’s objective, however, is not to sell tomatoes, however tasty they may be. Urban Farmers aims to propagate new farming practices in a world where urbanisation and an ever increasing population put more pressure is on scarce resources like water and land. It’s vision is to monetise empty urban rooftops by designing and operating urban farms in every city.