Indoor Urban Farming. Is it worth the efforts?

Do you know anyone around you that are doing Urban farming today in their home? Have you ever wonder what are these urban farmers farming and why are they doing it? We’ll explore the “why” in another article but for now, let’s try to understand what we mean by Indoor Urban Farming. In order to do that, we need to explore 4 important concepts that enable us to be successful in Indoor Urban Farming.

1) What is an Urban Farming Movement?

Urban Farming is when people are able to create food on unused land and space regardless it is a private or public housing estates. Urban Farms has also been created successfully in eateries, malls, schools, and offices. Many developing and developed countries worldwide are adopting urban farming in their city master plan mainly due to food security. Many non-government agencies are promoting the movement to grow your own food in suburban and urban cities because it provides fresh food, generates employment, recycles urban wastes, creates greenbelts, and strengthens cities’ resilience to climate change.

urban farming in Hortpark

(Image by Nparks Allotment Gardens – Hortpark)

2) What is Indoor Farming?

Indoor farming moves the creation of food from outdoor setup to an indoor environment. In Singapore, AVA is providing financial support to the farmer who is keen to move indoors. This is part of the agency plan to increase local production of vegetables in land scarce Singapore. It was through this funding, the concept and technology of indoor vegetable farming were developed.

Growing Lettuce indoor urban farm

Photo by Jatuphon Buraphon from Pexels

3) What can we farm in Indoor Urban Farming?

The list is substantial. Urban farmers are known to be raising and farming almost anything that is already been farmed on a traditional farm. However, not all urban farmers are the same. There are a few factors that can limit what you can farm in an indoor urban setup, Space, and Sunlight.

Because we are indoor, having Sunlights shinning into our farming area is going to be very limited with only a couple of hours per day at max. However, the good news is we can easily substitute Sunlights with artificial lightings today.

“SPACE”, however, is something most of us do not have control. When you are making a decision on what to farm, always take note of the space available. You will then be able to avoid running out of space too early in this journey. Do also take into consideration the available height. This is especially true if you are planning to have fruiting plants which may need more than 2 meters in height to even start bearing fruits.

So what are the most common edibles that you can farm on an indoor urban farm?

  • Herbs
  • Fruits & Vegetables
  • Poultry

(Fresh Harvest)

For this website, I’ll be focusing on growing fruits/vegetables and herbs in the soil-less indoor urban system using mainly only hydroponics.

4) Is it necessary to go natural or organic?

Using hydroponics system, we’ll then need to determine the nutrients/fertilizer that goes into the system. Should we stay natural and use only organic fertilizer?

The main reason many of our greens edibles from the market isn’t organic is that the farmer does not have a choice but to use chemical pesticides. As they are farming on a commercial scale, ensuring a good yield everytime is key to their survival. However, in urban farming, there is little or no need for using chemical pesticides as the growing area is easily controllable. An indoor urban farm is not exposed to the weather, thus the environmental factor is reduced to the minimum. What really matters is ensuring a good quality growing medium that contains nutrients.

Organic fertilizer is usually made from plant or animal waste or powdered minerals. Using Organic fertilizers, there is little risk of toxic buildups of chemicals and salts that can be deadly to plants. Most importantly, Organic fertilizers are renewable, biodegradable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. They are easily available at any gardening stall.

 

In my next article, we’ll look at the Hydroponics concept and the various system/technology based on it that we can adopt for Indoor Urban Farming.

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