By 2050, approximately 10 billion people will be residing in cities, according to a finding made by the United Nations. In addition, based on a recent publication by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition, a large fraction of the amount of food produced globally is consumed by urban eaters whose diets are comparatively more resource intensive. Concurrently, a large number of urban populations have been living in dire hunger while enduring malnutrition as these people face difficulty in obtaining both health and affordable food. Having realized this dire situation, a couple of startups have emerged attempting to materialize the concept of urban agriculture so as to satisfy the demand of this always-rising urban population.
AeroFarms (United States)
AeroFarms constructs and operates vertical indoor farms to produce crops at on a large scale, increasing the availability of safe, nutritious food. The company utilizes an aeroponic system to grow leafy greens, and the growth of these seeds starts in a fully-controlled environment that has no soil and light from the sun. The rate of production is not affected by any weather conditions, allowing year-round production, thereby leading to yields that are 400 times higher per square foot per year. According to the company, the technology uses 95 percent less water in comparison with the conventional way of framing, and it aims to cause disruptions in many conventional food supply chains by means of erecting farms along any major distribution routes in urban areas. The company has won multiple awards, such as 2018 Global SGD Award.
It is a startup that cultivates strawberries in containers that they have placed all over the urban areas. The company refurbishes unused containers, converting them into enclosures that are well ventilated and fitted with LED-lights and aeroponic systems. These containers are utilized to grow strawberries and the company names these containers Cooltainers. These containers are powered using clean energy and utilize 90 percent less water than the conventional way of framing. The company also sets up a network of urban farmers through its program, intending to open up job prospects for urban residents to get involved in the agricultural sector.
BIGH Farms (Belgium)
Building Integrated Greenhouses (BIGH) Farms is a startup, with its mission being to build a network of aquaponic urban farms in many major cities. The company integrates aquaponic farms with existing buildings to reduce environmental impacts resulting from the sites. These farms are designed with circular economy in mind, which means that the building materials, if possible, are sourced taking into consideration their prospect of being recycled or upcycled. Their first farm was erected above the historic Abattoir in Brussels City Center and it includes a greenhouse, fish farm and outdoor vegetable gardens spanning more than 2000 square meters.
Bites (United States)
It is a mobile application designed to help connect urban farmers, eaters and chefs located in Phoenix. It is a community-driven mobile application that connects eaters with local chefs encouraged to obtain ingredients from local farmers. Through the application, eaters can hire their preferred chefs to cook at their homes, and by utilizing this technology to build a culinary community, the company aims to persuade customers to choose locally-sourced food as opposed to shipped-in or trucked-in products.
To alleviate this food shortage crisis and prevent it from escalating, the concept of urban farming has been materialized and revolutionized, with the establishment of sustainable urban farms in many major cities. Sooner or later, most cities or heavily populated towns will have their own localized farms catering to the needs of the locals.