The Awareness and Development of Urban Agriculture in Different Regions


Food shortage has always been a big problem for the whole world. Although now technology is making progress and productivity is gradually improving, the growing food consumption still cannot be satisfied. At present, the world population has reached 7 billion, and this number continues growing and people who suffering hunger account for 8.27 hundred million which are mostly concentrated in developing countries and Asian countries have the largest number of hungry people. People have been trying to solve this problem all the time, such as the research and develop for new varieties, increase yield and reclaim more planting land, etc. In some cities of the developed countries, a new type of agriculture– Urban Agriculture emerges as the time requires. This term, our research direction for city regeneration is also the Urban Agriculture. Urban Agriculture is to develop the plant growth and cultivation as well as animal feeding to the cities, combined with the city developments to provide food for the city residents. The aim is integrated into the urban economic and ecological system to achieve physically, economically and socially integrated. 800 million urban residents are actively engaged in urban agriculture.

In cities, people try to find free city lands to develop urban agriculture, roofs, balconies, residential gardens, community green spaces are all available and which are easy for accessing and developing of urban agriculture. In different countries and regions, the ways and the effects of urban agriculture development are not the same; the main difference lies in the developing countries and developed countries.


In developed countries, people are very positive and happy to participate in the development of urban agriculture; many cities already have relatively perfect agricultural system which can correctly and effectively guide people to carry out agricultural production. Just like Bristol use public garden and community garden to build a food network in the whole city. Every part of land have a different role in network systems. And they encourage people to take part in their work or find their interested garden. Furthermore, they also organize many activities to let more people know they, such as Bristol Food Connections Festival, Bristol’s Get Growing Garden Trail which is help people to get involved in the gardening projects through some interesting activities. If you are interested about this project, you can find more information on their website.


On the contrary, in developing countries, the reason why people began to personally plant food is mostly because of worrying about food safety, so they grow green vegetables to meet the basic needs of their daily life. The biggest limitation in developing countries is that people can seldom find a wide range of land to provide support for the development of urban agriculture; most people can only choose on a balcony or roof to plant a small range of food, and the most important is that the urban agriculture awareness has not been fully popularized. The centre of the whole city development is economic development and to accelerate the city constructions; residents are fighting for their own life, and they have no concept of urban agriculture development. So to develop urban agriculture, we need the government to formulate relevant policies to encourage people to actively participate in the urban agriculture development, and vigorously give publicity to the benefits brought by urban agriculture as well improve the enthusiasm of the masses.

Urban agriculture not only can effect urban economic development, but also help environmental improvement. It can reduce food costs to improve quality of life, and provide health food, health eating and health life style. Moreover, urban agriculture will increase opportunity of employment and entrepreneurship, it is a new skill for residents and an education base for students. It can improve the social stability and cohesion to form social integration.

Indoor Urban Agriculture: One way to have an extensive food growing in the city.



Food is a basic need of every human being that must be fulfilled every day. Therefore, food production must continue to increase in number from day to day to meet all of these great needs. In 2050, the World Health Organization estimates, there will be 9 billion people on Earth where 70 percent of the amount will be living in urban areas. With this much amount, whether the food needs will be met if we only rely on conventional agriculture where mostly located in the suburbs? The need for food in 2050 according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is 3 billion tones where food availability now approximately 2.1 billion tones. So, we had to increase approximately 1 billion tones to meet the needs of the food.

Indoor urban agriculture is not a new thing in the world. However, some companies have managed to prove that through the indoor urban agriculture, they also have helped provide food in the country. By using the abandoned buildings where widely spread all over the city, they start this activity, even become a very big business.

As we know, the indoor urban agriculture is not a process of growing plants in a natural way in the whole system. Some tools should still be used so that they can create a habitat which is so similar to the original. Therefore, the advantages and disadvantages do exist. That thing I will try to explain one by one later. I will also try to give some examples of companies which have managed to do indoor urban agriculture.

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Almost all the companies engaged in this field using hydroponics and aquaponics to grow these plants. Hydroponics is a method of farming without using the soil as a growing medium, but using mineral nutrient fluid. Similar to hydroponics, but aquaponics  can not necessarily be used after all growing media available and vitamins given. In aquaponics method, we have to wait about 1 month so that the protein in the water is already well developed. In addition, they also use artificial light instead of the sun which can not get from the the room.


From several articles, mentioned that the first advantage of the indoor urban agriculture is the farmers do not have to be afraid of unavailability of the land for planting. Many of them use the abandoned buildings where scattered throughout the city. Second, because it is in the room, growers are not afraid with the state of the weather, climate or natural disasters so that they can plant any time and under any circumstances. Third, from several crops that have been passed, the results obtained from the indoor urban agriculture proved more. As said by Mark Thomann, chief executive officer of FarmedHere, “We can grow 200 percent more food per square foot than traditional agriculture, and without the use of chemical fertilizers.”

But, beside all these advantages there are still disadvantages generated by indoor urban agriculture. First, indoor urban agriculture requires modern technologies to create a suitable habitat for the plant. As a simple example, they need a light which is on within several hours to replace the function of the sun in conventional agriculture. In addition to the best LED which suit with this function is still under study, we can imagine how much energy and money will be spent on these lights. Although several studies have been successful in increasing the presentation of the efficiency, but still this has not been maximum. Second, not all plants can be grown indoors. Some of the plant grown in the room now is basically an outdoor plant. Therefore, J. Michael Gould, director of Texas A & M’s AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas said that the breeding programs need to begin to breed plants for indoor environments.




FarmedHere is the Largest Indoor aquaphonic vertical farm in the United State. Started their business by using an abandon warehouse, now FarmedHere has become a big business. As mentioned previously, FarmedHere also using hydroponics and aquaponics to grow crops. Some plants which planted by FarmedHere are baby leaf lettuces are, mustard greens, mild Brassica greens, basil, mint and Arugula.

There’s something interesting from an aquaponics method used by FarmedHere. They use a closed-loop method aquaponic system. The process from this system is the tilapia (a type of fish) are kept in a large tank to produce waste. Water containing waste from the tilapia is supplied to the planting medium. Those Water is excellent as growing media because it contains a lot of protein. From there, the plants will help to filter the water. The clean water filtered by the plants will be flowed back to the tilapia’s tank and so on.


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Disasters that often occur in Japan make agricultural land does not get the crop. This inspired Shigeharu Shimamura, a Japanese plant physiologist to start indoor urban agriculture. Finally, he changed a former Sony Corporation semiconductor factory into the world’s Largest indoor farm. This Indoor Agriculture has an almost equally large with a big a football field (25,000 Square Feet).

The project began when General Electric (GE) invited him to cooperate. Shimamura said that he knew how to grow a good crop with the knowledge he has. Now, he wants to integrate science with technology in order to create a better plant. From this collaboration, GE provide  all LED lights needed by the plants. GE even do their own research in order to create an LED lamp which is necessary, but still thin enough to be easily applied on the shelves of the growing media. GE’s LED lights provide uniform light and eendure the high humidity inside

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Shimamura focuses on planting lettuce in his indoor agriculture. With this method, Shimamura claims that he can produce lettuce that contain vitamins and minerals two-and-a-half times faster than an outdoor farm. He also said that by using this method, it can cut the discarded produce from 50 percent to just 10 percent of the harvest, Compared to a conventional farm. He can get all of that by controlling temperature, humidity and irrigation properly. This farm can also cut its water usage to just 1 percent of the amount needed by the outdoor fields.



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Big box Farm. An indoor agriculture business owned by Jordan Motzkin, 22 years in New York. He won a sum of money from the National Science Foundation and the College of the Atlantic for his startup, Big Box Farms.

Motzkin dream is to plant millions of organic lettuce and basil. He will start this business from an old Brooklyn warehouse. Motzkin cooperate with Philips Electronics to provide the latest LED lighting technology which has not even been marketed to the public. Motzkin claimed that the new technology can increase the percentage of energy efficiency from 40% to 60%. All of these operations will be done by Motzkin through in their iPhone Application – from indoor climate control and LED lighting to Hydroponics.


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Basically, each indoor method or outdoor method has its own advantages and disadvantages. Until now, it has not been established which the best method to use. However, for me, given the need of the food is increasing from day to day, it would be better if these two methods can cooperate with each other and meet the needs of the food rather than constantly looking for which one is better.

Urban agriculture in South Shields



Now we are working at the regeneration of South Shields. Our preliminary idea is connect the open space and local residents through urban agriculture. We want to change the current situation of South Shields, such as “lacking of attraction”, “backward economy”, “inconspicuous urban characteristics” and other problems. Therefore, we will bring the urban agriculture into the urban regeneration plan to make the whole city revitalize through the urban agriculture.

In the works of past few weeks, we have been considering how to integrate the urban agriculture into South Shields better and how to make people be involved, let them know urban agriculture and accept it. Obviously, there are many problems worthy of consideration in the actual process. In the tutorial of last week, we discussed the problems about urban agriculture and economy with teachers. Who will participate in it? How to participate in it? What’s kind of activity and project in there? What’s the source of capital? Who supports and manages this project? These are the critical key points, which will be faced and solved by us.


We search the basic economic data of South Shields on Internet, including resident’s age analysis, work and income and house price. According to these data, we find South Shields has an aging population, that is, many old people, high unemployment, low salary and income and high house rental and sales price. Therefore, based on the current economic status, what’s change will be brought after the proposal of urban agriculture? First, urban agriculture can bring more fresh and healthy foods to local residents to improve their living quality; second, we want to connect the whole city by urban agriculture to drive the activity of the whole region and become a complete agricultural production system, which not only drive the economic development, but also provide more employment opportunities; third, this is a good opportunity to make all the local residents participate in the project, especially the old people, who can be self-sufficient and ensure the daily life. The project can also be the educational experiment base of children to provide special extracurricular teaching; finally, urban agriculture can improve the environment and attract more tourists to South Shields as a special industry and label.

The question raised by the teacher is that we should find a breakthrough point and tell a complete story by a timeline to completely express the whole urban agricultural system. So we need to find a catalysis site, develop this site to be the first step of all system. Through it to tell our idea to residents and take it as a starting point to develop the urban agriculture and economy.

Through the tutorial every week, we have a clear understanding of design process and how to make our design perfect. We study the local economy, then find the problem and solve it in a proper manner. We must combine the urban agriculture with the local current situation better.

A New Type of Urban Agriculture: Rooftop Farm

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Dr. Suzanne talked about the definition of Urban Agriculture, it is different from landscape and planting for decoration but with some important connection with social, economical and of course, the physical aspects.

What’s more, the forms of urban agriculture are various. Not only the usage of green spaces, but also need to fit for the facade of cities. Nowadays we are facing the situation that having less room for open spaces, but there are still some creative ideas for us to use. In the case of Value Farm in Shenzhen, China, the designer successfully made the full use of flat roofs of the buildings, and made the idea spread to other cities and became bigger scales.

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Value Farm is based on post empty rooms and stores in industrial estate. As mentioned by designer, Value Farm is aiming to develop new value on wasted lands, and making farming on rooftop in Hong Kong as a type of living be spread into Shenzhen.

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Two aspects inspired the designer. The first one is comes from the trend of flourishing farming on the rooftop in urban area. Rooftop farm can not only improve the vertical greenery area of a city and reconnect urban citizen and natural planting, but also can provide more sustainable and safer food resource and the change of living attitude and style. The second inspiration is from the reconstruction of Graham Street market district in city center that with 170 years of history what changed the original urban structure. So generally speaking, the development of Value Farm is looking forward to digging up the history of Hong Kong, and cultivating a sustainable development future through rooftop farm.
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The spaces are divided with bricks, different plants will be planted by the height of soil, the past lift district also became a open roof to fulfill the requirement of future actives. The water for irrigating is from local underground water source. This area also planned with space for children, projection and exhibition.

Referece: Value Farm / Thomas Chung, available at

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