The Marriage of Technology and Food

March 22, 2014 10:58 AM

Technology has spread to take a part in all aspects of our lives; now it has evolved into an ecological solution to our urban problems. Land has always been at a premium and agricultural technology has strived for centuries to cultivate the greatest amount of food within the smallest plots. With an ever-increasing global population and good quality agricultural land becoming scarcer, the future of food production is a great concern. With this looming crisis, finding sustainable ways to feed ourselves from our urban environment has never been more important.   From terraced gardens to rice paddies we have moulded and shaped our environments to maximise yields of food.  Now we look at the next great leap forward, bringing our farms into the very spaces that we live in. Solutions such as Urby and WindowFarms are great ideas and show the general movement towards inside gardening.


What indoor options are there?


Urby: a Growot Product

If you like indoor gardens and the effect that they bring to your home then these products are a great place to start.  WindowFarms is an open design movement with 40,000 members and something that looks like it’s straight out of a sci-fi film yet using the most basic of materials. Urby is a beautifully designed system to grow your own vegetables that allows you to monitor and change conditions using an app; you don’t need any prior knowledge and it takes minimal time. These cool, low energy and high yield systems have been hailed as modern art, and let’s be honest; adding some relaxing greenery makes any space more homely. Think of it as the Good Life for the iPod generation.

They’re both hydroponic systems for growing vegetables and herbs in urban environments.  In creating these products Urby and the WindowFarms movements have created communities that work together, linking all over the world.  The aim is to solve the problem of getting fresh local food to people in cities.

Britta Riley and Rebecca Bray are at the forefront of a revolution. From TED talks to their own channel on Youtube to a whole community of people communicating via their websites…WindowFarms are here to stay. Urby represents an edgy evolution in such ideas and the technology could really improve all of our lives. By using an app to monitor the growing conditions, Urby takes ideas like Farmville – a popular Facebook game – and turns it into a real life useful experience. You will be able to decide just how involved you want to be with the growing of your plants so, for the lazier of us, you can sit back and relax as Urby serves you delicious fresh vegetables. With the amount of time that people sink into apps and their digital lives, it is refreshing to have a product like Urby which bridges the divide between our online lives and the natural world.


Window Farms

Window Farms

Why do we need these products?

Aesthetically they’re pleasing. Nutritionally they produce fresh produce that are good for you; straight from growing to eating, reducing the chance of nutrients being lost. Financially they’re not expensive. Socially they open you up to a wide community of like-minded individuals from all over the world. They produce food all year round with the added benefit of being a low carbon footprint option. Growing your own dramatically reduces transport costs associated with food. You get to experience the whole life-cycle of the plant and understand where your food comes from, allowing us to feel more connected with nature. Our urban environments can become green sanctuaries whilst feeding us, making us feel empowered by taking back control over the food we consume.


What does the future hold? 

Although not the answer to the food problems we face, these innovative technologies represent a part of the solution. WindowFarms and Urby reconsider the whole idea of what an indoor space is: to change the relationship we have with our environment. They are the beginning of a whole movement where agriculture and architecture intertwine. Growing indoors transforms our man-made environment into something more organic, bringing nature indoors not only for aesthetics but to feed ourselves too.

You can find both the Urby (Growot) and WindowFarms websites on Google. Change the space you live in, produce your own vegetables, and have fun doing it!