More than half of humanity now lives in cities, according to the United Nations Population Fund. This rapid and ongoing change presents a raft of new challenges, many of which create opportunities for resourceful entrepreneurs. Here are five concepts that target consumers’ increasing interest in growing their own food in the city:
1. REEL GARDENING — Simplifying the process of starting a domestic garden, South Africa’s Reel Gardening provides a strip of biodegradable paper carrying correctly spaced, pre-fertilised seeds. The strips are colour coded (e.g. red for tomatoes, purple for beetroot) and carry instructions for how deep they should be planted in your soil. Just add water!
2. THE WIKI GARDEN — Urban gardeners who haven’t even got a bed of soil may be interested in the Wiki Garden from Hawaii. It’s a metre-long “growing medium” (i.e. sack) containing compost, worm castings, bat guano and more, plus a built-in irrigation system with a hose attachment. The bags can be connected, allowing for an easily scalable system.
3. CLICK AND GROW — Another alternative is to do without soil at all. Estonia’s Click and Grow is a hi-tech growing system deploying aeroponics: the plant’s lower stem and roots are contained in an air or mist environment, regulated by sensors and electronics to ensure the plant is fed and watered correctly. The pots even feature a USB port to upload new growing instructions.
4. WINDOWFARMS — Rather than selling a particular product, the Window Farms project in New York promotes the production of hydroponic food gardens in homes and offices, using recycled or locally-sourced materials. The founders aim to build a community to share ideas and engender a DIY approach to solving environmental problems.
5. OOOOBY — Based in New Zealand, Ooooby, short for Out Of Our Own Back Yard, is a social networking community dedicated to connecting local food producers and consumers for trade, networking, and sharing ideas. Ooooby also organises stalls at farmers’ markets and other locations through which people can buy, sell and barter local produce and small-scale farming supplies.