The majority of the world’s population lives in a city, and this proportion continues to grow. One hundred years ago, 2 out of every 10 people lived in an urban area. By 1990, nearly 40% of the global population lived in a city, in 2010, more than half of all people lived in an urban area. It is predicted that by 2030, 6 out of every 10 people will live in a city, and by 2050, this will increase to 7 out of 10 people (www.who.int). This trend of urbanisation of course means masses of individuals in cities depending on fewer and fewer people to grow their food.
The interest in producing your own food and particularly growing your own fruit and vegetables is an area that has gained a lot of interest in the last few years. With people becoming more health conscious, aware of what they eat, interested in organic and so forth it makes sense to grow it yourself. Of course, for the growing number of urbanites across the globe, growing a ‘traditional’ vegetable garden isn’t possible.
For those people there are ‘Windowfarms’. This is a pretty nifty idea that comes from Britta Riley in the US, that allows city dwellers to grow their own fruit, vegetables and herbs. Set up in 2009, it has already gained significant growth with 40,000 members in their online community.
A Windowfarm is a vegetable garden on your windowsill. To maximise space it’s vertical, it allows plants to make the most of natural light and the climate is controlled through control of your living space. What is different is that the plants are grown in organic “liquid soil”. This liquid soil is water with the necessary nutrients which is then pumped from a reservoir into each of the plant bottles. Water that is not used is collected again at the base which gets distributed again to the plants.
It’s a great idea for “foodies” or just people who want to have some fresh vegetables at hand when doing their cooking. Of course, for people living in apartments it’s a great way to grow food in a limited space. Some of the recommended plants on the Windowfarms.org website are kale, chard, strawberries, dill, lettuce or basil. Obviously, root vegetables or wheat are not going to work!
Windowfarms initially began as an experiment in environmental solutions which quickly turning into a social enterprise that has received a lot of publicity and funding. Their mission is “healthier people and a healthier planet” and it’s hard to argue with that. Watch Britta Riley on Ted Talks below talking about her Windowfarms, where she got her idea and how it has developed since it’s conception. It’s an interesting story!