Urban farming is an umbrella term that groups together a number of different techniques and technologies. Some examples of the things that interest us are:

Aquaponics

This is the technique of growing fish and crops together in a completely closed-loop ecosystem. This highly efficient and technologically advanced system is based on agricultural methods that are actually thousands of years old. In the systems we build, these ancient methods have been updated and made suitable for the urban environment.

In its simplest form, fish excrete waste into the water and this waste makes the perfect fertiliser for the plants, so we pump it into a separate tank where microbes break it down to release the nutrients which feed the plants. By removing these nutrients from the water the microbes and plants act as a bio-filter, cleaning the water as it flows back to the fish to start the whole process again.

Mushroom cultivation

Mushrooms are one of nature’s wonders, with the ability to break down almost any organic matter – wood, straw, paper and more – into fertile compost, whilst providing a valuable and potentially lucrative crop. Mushrooms can be grown on waste from the urban farm, and also from collected waste from local businesses. The compost from the mushrooms can then be used in vermiculture, which not only provides us with a rich compost for growing crops conventionally, it also provides us with worms to feed to our fish.

Insect farming

Insects are a highly sustainable and nutritious source of protein. They don’t need a lot of space to grow and can be made into all sorts of foods, like cricket burgers. Some insects can eat almost any organic material, making them excellent at consuming and recycling the waste that we produce in our aquaponic systems. We are looking at designing fish feeds made from from insects, helping to close the cycle of aquaponics and make it even more efficient