Window Farms: Getting the Hang of Urban Farming in Your Own Apartment

July 29, 2009 by

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Urban gardeners can join a new network of green-minded city dwellers experimenting in the creation of vertical, hydroponic, modular, low-energy, high-yield, edible window gardens right in their own apartments.

Window Farms, the community-based, crowdsourced environmental design project of Britta Riley and Rebecca Bray, will be located in high-profile windows throughout the city, intended to inspire other New Yorkers to design and implement their own window farms. Signs in the window farms will challenge New Yorkers to create their own and direct them to a website where we can all share photos, plans, designs, and information. The first prototype gardens, built using inexpensive, low-impact or recycled local materials and installed at Eyebeam Art & Technology Center, were loaded with 25 plants: tomatoes, lettuce, beans, cucumber, okra, basil, arugula and peppers. The project intends to derive viable and efficient methods for growing food under the local conditions of one’s own home.

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In February 2009, through a residency at Eyebeam, Riley and Bray began to build and test the first Window Farms prototype. “Growing food inside NY apartments is a challenge, but within reach, ” they say.  ”The foundational knowledge base is emerging through working with agricultural, architectural and other specialists, collecting sensor data, and reinterpreting hydroponics research conducted by NASA scientists and marijuana farmers. We have been researching and developing hydroponic designs that are made from relatively inexpensive materials. The working prototype is a drip system made from recycled water bottles, holding 25 plants.  Beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, arugula, basil, lettuce and kale are thriving.”

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While completing the first Prototype in mid-April, they invited a dozen “pioneers” to join them in creating Window Farms. “We asked them to approach the project like a night class, devoting one night a week for two months. We showed them our prototype and presented the DIY research and development we did so far and invited them to build on our research to create their own designs. Currently, the Pioneers are designing their systems. Their innovative ideas are adding to the knowledgebase about DIY hydroponics.”

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The initial group of window farmers is creating a variety of design and DIY innovations that will be shared with others.  How-to instructions will be released to the public in mid-July.

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If interested in building your own window farm, or in commissioning one for your apartment, office, or  storefront, contact Britta and Rebecca at windowfarmers@gmail.com

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