Scientists predict that in the coming years, Europeans will begin to eat vegetables and fruits grown exclusively in the city - in basements, on roofs and walls of houses.
According to EuroNews reporters, many European companies began investing in city farming in Hong Kong during the pandemic. For example, Rooftop Republic has built 70 urban farms in this Special Administrative Region of China.
Why Hong Kong? Because it is a great place for urban farms. There is a lot of sun, enough empty roofs, which we consider as a convenient place for growing food, ”said the owner of the company Paul Fabrega.
The technologies that underlie city farming have begun to actively develop quite recently in regions with the highest population density - in China, Japan, and Taiwan. And in Singapore today, a real agricultural revolution is underway with an emphasis on city farming.
Singapore is looking to increase its own food production by growing vegetables on multi-tiered farms. Thus, the island nation is trying to fulfill its national "import substitution" in order to feed its 5 million population.
Over the past three years, the number of so-called "celestial farms" in Singapore has doubled. Locals no longer have to go to the supermarket or the market for groceries. It is enough to place an order on the Internet for a city farmer working in the basement or on the roof of the house where the consumer lives, and in a couple of minutes the freshest green salads, cucumbers, tomatoes or even strawberries will appear on the table.
Apollo Aquaculture Group is a prime example of city farming, building in addition to its capacity an automated eight-story fish farm worth about $ 50 million. Its specialists already now, by arranging small pools on the roofs of private houses, produce more than 110 tons of fish per year!
The Chinese company Shiok Meats wants to become the first in the world to sell shrimp grown in a laboratory located on the roof of a skyscraper.
The rest of the world is not lagging behind in city farming. In New York City, the number of urban farms and high-rise roof gardens has grown to 1,500 over the past two years.
In some Western countries, for example, in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, special laws have been adopted, according to which the roofs of certain structures must be greened.
In London, greens are increasingly being grown underground in former bomb shelters, and abandoned metro lines are being used to grow mushrooms. Since 2008, the number of “living roofs” there has almost tripled. Local authorities are confident that their further dissemination can help cities solve problems such as air pollution, lack of green spaces, and isolation of citizens from nature.
In the British capital, city farmers have their own attraction. On the roof of the Selfridges shopping mall on Oxford Street is an Italian restaurant with a green tunnel, an artificial lake and a garden. Moreover, the arches, depending on the season, are sometimes decorated with bright autumn leaves, or Christmas garlands, or lemons ripen on them.
According to data for 2017, the total area of "green roofs" in Greater London was 1.5 million square meters. m, which is approximately 0.17 sq. m. per inhabitant. Today these figures have increased.
Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy Shirley Rodriguez said London will need more green roofs, green walls and trees in the streets in the coming years to mitigate climate change and achieve the mayor's goal of at least 50% green territory of the city by 2050. Rodriguez hopes other cities will follow the lead of the British capital and realize the significant environmental benefits of such a policy.
The largest agricultural project in Europe is a vertical farm in the former 6-story Phillips office in The Hague. There, vegetables and microgreens, which are now fashionable, are grown on the roof, and fish are raised on the 6th floor below. No wonder, the world has already learned how to use aquaponics.
Scientists have calculated: the profitability of growing, for example, microgreens, can be 1000%, and the productivity of vertical farms is hundreds of times higher than classical farming. Plus savings on storage, logistics and commissions for retail chains.
The story with the roofs is generally cult. Columbia University professor Dixon Dispommer, author of the book "Vertical Farm" and the creator of the blog of the same name , considers this type of urban farming to be the main way to feed people in the 21st century.
The Russians, it turns out, also have something to brag about. In Rostov-on-Don, where it is warm and sunny for much longer than in central Russia, a terrace with trees and flower beds was made in one of the business centers. It is readily rented for a variety of events, yoga classes and photo shoots. This is one of the projects of the architect Alexander Tolokonnikov, part of the general concept of Tolokonnikov Parks with a private botanical garden and cucumber beds.
In general, in Russia, the introduction of vertical greenhouses has been carried out for only three to four years. The first and only Panasonic agricultural laboratory in the country has opened in the Skolkovo Technopark. By the way, the same Japanese company offered its services to establish city farming at the Timiryazev Academy. By creating a circle of city farmers, specialists invite all interested students and university teachers to cooperate.
As the employee of the Department of Biotechnology Ivan Chuksin told "Novye Izvestia", it is very difficult to create a city farm in Russia so far. We need the work of a team of like-minded people, rare professionals who are already being trained by Timiryazevka.
Today, the institute's agricultural laboratories grow mainly leafy vegetables - lettuce, arugula and spinach. In the near future, as experts promise, the production of tomatoes, strawberries and even melons will be launched on the roofs of educational buildings.