08 Sep Food for Thought
As our world’s population continues to grow, so too does the amount of land required to produce food. Landscape Architect Sam Parkes discusses the viability of urban farming in creating a sustainable future as space limitations in today’s hectic urban environment becomes an ever-increasing reality.
You can feed 22 people for a year from growing one hectare of potatoes, 19 people per year from a hectare of rice and just 1 or 2 people per year growing beef from the product of the same area (estimates by WHO and FAO)
As the population rises, the requirement of the landscape becomes increasingly demanding. Where is this land going to come from? What ecosystems, previous uses, or other potential operations might be sacrificed to meet this demand?
With lack of space becoming an increasingly relevant issue, it’s a good idea to explore what existing urban areas can offer. Many designers have explored this notion with elaborate urban farms towering skywards, successful community gardens, or the simple and effective backyard vege patch.
A company called BrightFarms are carving a sustainable path for urban farming through their pioneering methods of operating greenhouses on supermarket rooftops. In return, the supermarket agrees to a long-term contract to sell the food that is produced and harvested. As well as providing the customer with visably fresher produce, this method of urban farming dramatically reduces carbon emissions through the elimination of shipping and storage, as well as requiring a fraction of the land or water generally associated with food production. With plenty of rooftops but limited ground space, this form of urban farming could be a way of the future for our crowded cities.
Natural Habitats green walls have been used in areas where space is at a premium and where creation of a sense of tranquillity in an otherwise hectic urban environment is, well, a breath of fresh air. With technological developments in our wall technology we will be looking to adapt our green walls further in the coming years; as personal vertical kitchen gardens for those without the backyard space and with a bit of creative flair.
Affordable and edible – now that is sustaining.
Doig, W. (2012). Urban Gardens: The Future of Food? Retrieved from
By Sam Parkes
Project Landscape Architect