Urban agriculture is a global trend, gaining momentum in recent years, which aims to grow, process and distribute fresh, vitamin-rich vegetables throughout the city using sustainable methods.
One should distinguish between two groups:
Urban farmers who grow and cultivate edible plants in order to market them in the city – for private individuals, restaurants and supermarkets. Since urban land is an expensive commodity that is usually intended for other urban uses, most urban farms are found in unutilized urban areas, such as the roofs of abandoned buildings and industrial buildings. The use of roofs has a clear advantage – these are vast areas that are not exploited and receive abundant sun – especially in a Mediterranean country like Israel.
Although traditional farming is quite problematic in the city there are a number of cities in the world that have opened community gardens for the benefit of the inhabitants (very common in Cuba) where every resident receives a plot of land, in most of the world the urban land resource is extremely expensive and there is not enough space available to support private growers, not to mention commercial farms. As said above, the use of unutilized areas such as roofs is very attractive but it makes no sense, economically and technically speaking, to load them with soil. For these reasons and more, it is customary to use advanced growing methods, such as hydroponics, suitable for the needs of urban space.
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants based on water enriched with nutrients (fertilizer). This cultivation method does not require soil and can be implemented anywhere. Hydroponic growth accounts for only 20% of water and half the amount of fertilizer compared with soil agriculture. The growth systems themselves are light and can be easily placed on roofs.
Another prominent advantage of the hydroponic growth method is the ability to grow aloft and take advantage of urban space – a method known as vertical agriculture. With vertical hydroponics, a crowded Tel Aviv balcony can provide green for the entire family and an average building roof can grow agricultural produce in a significant amount.
One of the major problems facing humanity in the 21st century is a huge increase in urban populations worldwide. Forecasts predict that by 2050, 70% of the world population will live in urban areas – the vast majority in developing countries. The development of gigantic cities stretching far and wide will make it difficult to bring live and fresh food into the city at a price accessible to all residents. Moving to local agriculture within the city will enable residents – from all walks of life – to enjoy fresh and vitamin-rich produce. Environmentally, the carbon footprint of transportation within the city is immeasurably smaller than the carbon footprint of transporting the produce over vast distances from the village to the city. Additionally, conventional agriculture is wasteful, makes excessive use of natural resources and has destructive effects on variety and species richness in nature (flora and fauna).
The urban farmer, from his side, can sell premium vegetables to its customers at a fair price without the need for intermediaries or relying on external carriers. Direct sales of produce are infinitely easier when all customers are within a kilometer radius. Another advantage for farmers and private growers is the small presence of pests in the urban environment compared to open spaces.
The city as a whole and its residents also have something to gain from the development of local urban agriculture – Besides accessibility of quality agricultural produce, fresh, and inexpensive without chemical pesticides, the urban farms will also serve as green lungs for the city and are expected to improve urban air quality. From a community perspective, the farms will create new jobs and cultural, recreational, touristic and educational areas for the residents.
Livingreen sees promoting the field of urban agriculture in Israel and abroad as an important part of the company’s vision, and therefore we are working on the home and commercial level in order to make the subject accessible to the general public: For private growers we offer a variety of hydroponic systems adapted to the urban environment. Read more about the types of hydroponic systems for the home.
LivinGreen, together with Dizengoff Center, established the first urban farm in Israel – the “Green in the City” Farm, which provides fresh and quality produce for restaurants in the area. Read more about ‘Green in the City’. In addition, we offer full service for commercial growing, from feasibility studies to the establishment of a hydroponic farm. Read more about our services.