Inexpensive, eco-friendly and portable, shipping containers offer the ideal basis for urban farms that could be placed in empty lots, adjacent to populations that are eager for access to fresh, locally grown food. The ‘Urban Farm Unit’ by Damien Chivalle adapts an ordinary shipping container by removing the roof and adding a transparent greenhouse.
Fresh fruits and vegetables can be grown inside the self-contained greenhouse, and sold right out of the back. The greenhouse uses aquaponics, circulating water in a closed circuit wherein fish waste is broken down and turned into fertilizer for the plants.
The Urban Farm Unit is open-source, so anyone can learn how to build it and make their own. So far, three units have been built in Zurich, Berlin and Brussels. The most recent one is currently on display at the Grote Markt in Levuen, Belgium.
While one stand-alone unit couldn’t produce enough to support more than a few people, these miniature urban farms could easily be placed side-by-side in a sunny area. Because they don’t rely on the soil of the site, they could be used to grow food on locations that aren’t fit for agricultural purposes, like industrial parks.