Gibraltar, the forefront of eccentric sectors which flourish more than anywhere else in the world, could be introducing ‘urban farming’ to its already established collection of industries.
Not to be mistaken with its conventional counterparts, urban farming doesn’t require the traditional elements of sun and soil. In fact, London has already initiated it’s first underground farm in Clapham Common using LED lighting as an alternative to sun.
Derelict basements and unused factory or office floors are increasingly being converted into indoor LED greenhouses, including an underground bank vault in Japan that is currently growing indoor crops. It will only be a matter of time before we start seeing crops grown on skyscrapers and near other city landmarks.
Alongside LED lighting, there are numerous new methods to take farming to a new sustainable level.
Aquaponics, Hydroponics and Aeroponics
Recently, Jamie Oliver took his viewers on a tour of an Aquaponic system which cleverly uses a nutrient-rich by-product from fish farming as an alternative to soil. Due to the extremely clean conditions, there is no need for fertilisers or antibiotics either, which could render this method as organic.
Unlike traditional methods that rely on nutrient rich soil, hydroponics is another soil-free method of farming that uses water to deliver nutrients direct to plant roots.
The phrase ‘supporting local businesses’ could there’s a farm growing carrots and cress within metres of your office desk. The cost of producing fresh, seasonal produce is also significantly lower because it hasn't travelled hundreds of miles before being picked up by your fork.
Urban farming has many benefits besides reduced carbon footprints and zero food miles. It makes uses of any available space anywhere and Gibraltar has been labelled as a potential space for urban farming.
Not only would urban farming add greenery to the city island, it would mean Gibraltar can become an independent grower of its own supply of fruit and vegetables. Architects and urban designers are able to incorporate urban farms within their designs to benefit everyone for aesthetic and practical purposes.
One area of particular interest that may catch the eye of Gibraltar’s designers is Aeroponics. It combines green produce grown artistically on vertical towers using less ground surface area and a reduced water intake. Google and NASA have already jumped on the revolutionary green bandwagons to produce their own green stuff.
A Revolutionary Change
Previously urban farming would have been solely practiced by one man bands as a small hobby, but the trend has turned viral to become a groundbreaking field for innovative research combined with the potential to feeds thousands within yards.
Since land in Gibraltar is scarce, urban rooftop farming may provide the answer to cutting back on imported foods. Gibraltar’s 50km of tunnels within the Rock also propose a viable business opportunity to become a sustainable exporter of crops without the risk of floods and other effects of global warming.
Urban farming companies are being encouraged to start piloting their methods in Gibraltar with the permission of Gibraltar’s Town Planning and Land Use. Continuous regulation and development of urban farming will enable Gibraltar to develop its urban agriculture in a clever and effective way to benefit all.
The future of farming in urban spaces is set to become a growing reality that will fit into Gibraltar’s existing landscape extremely well.