Published on May 21, 2012 | by Klara Eldstal Damlin

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Microfarms: Veg in the city

Woman tending to plants on a balcony

Window farming is seen as a new green solution for modern compact living. [Courtesy of: Windowfarms]

Window farming is a vertical way of soil-free farming that allows you to not only keep plants alive with minimal effort, but eat them too.

The fabulous green solution for compact living can be customised to hold anything from cress to potatoes; it is not only completely possible, but encouraged.

You can build a window farm yourself from scratch using mainly recycled materials.

Some of us may have plantations that we would rather keep away from the eye of the authorities, but one could always exchange those Venetian blinds for a nice legal herb garden.

There is a growing concern over how the food we eat is produced and what is actually in it.

A movement of urban micro-farmers has been triggered; a collective that will not accept being told what to eat, just because they happen to live in a farm-free zone.

How window farming works

The concept is simple, really. The plants sit in separate containers, which are connected to each other from top to bottom.

There is no soil; instead nutrition is added directly to the water.

When the plant on the top is watered, eventually the water will run through the container and move on to the next one in line.

This is done mechanically by using a pump set to water the plants at intervals adjusted according to each plant’s needs.

This results in an almost self-sufficient system. Plants, like every living thing, need a fair amount of love and care – before getting chopped off and eaten, that is.

Kristopher Nolgren
“I think the ladies at the gardening expos get to go to sleep with an extra big smile on their faces at night when they’ve gotten to speak to us, if you know what I mean.”

To some it might seem silly that micro-farmers think they make a difference to anything – what you have grown in your window could not keep you well fed, and so you would still need to buy lots of food.

As true as that might be, the willingness of the farmers to do something they believe in is both impressive and sexy.

After all, who does not feel some extra attraction to someone who has the determination and cunning to build things that actually work?

Not to mention the obvious care over keeping plants alive, showing their nurturing side and capacity for dedication.

A person with a window farm is obviously one point closer to being a catch.

Bookshelves are still on the list of vertical storage of things that could potentially score you some credit, but the window farm might just kick that oldie down a bit.

A cleaner design

Kristoffer Nolgren, 24, co-builder of the world’s biggest window farm, claims that the farms are cleaner in design – providing a more Scandinavian feel in comparison to the original New York invention.

“The best thing about window farming, though, is to have fresh vegetables without pesticides within an arm’s reach.”

The gigantic window farm was exhibited at Kulturhuset (the house of culture) in Stockholm last June.

When asked if window farming is sexy, Nolgren’s answer is short but somehow says it all: “I got laid from it at least.”

He does not mind me asking about his results from farming, and tells me: “We are the David Bowies of the farmers’ society”, which supposedly means that him and his partner in crime are sought after by the green thumb crowd.

“The best thing about window farming, though, is to have fresh vegetables without pesticides within an arm’s reach,” Kristoffer states, true to his original goal of the project.

“I think the ladies at the gardening expos get to go to sleep with an extra big smile on their faces at night when they’ve gotten to speak to us, if you know what I mean.”

Getting creative

Many window farms, including Kristoffer’s, are made out of plastic bottles – but that does not mean you cannot be creative when it comes to your own farm.

Even though it is possible to get a ready-made kit, the chance to be creative really is half the fun.

Window farming is not only a way to grow veggies, plants and herbs in your window, but also a fashion statement for your whole home.

It could be a way for you to eventually spend a little less money, as there are no limits to what materials you can use to create your own window farm, assuming it actually functions.

It may transpire in this case that your plants will not even survive when they are automatically watered and are constantly in the sun.

You can always chop them off and tell your friends that they were due to be harvested anyway, and plant yourself some cacti in the pots instead.

Nobody needs to know, and it will still look like a super chic window ornament.




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