People visit the Edible Garden at AT& T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team. Photo: Eric Risberg/ AP
One of the first customers is Patrick Buyze, chef and co-owner of Mochi restaurant in The Hague. It was a bit of a fantasy to grow food in the city, on a skyscraper, he tells. So many of our deliveries have been shipped thousands of miles. This farm isnt biodynamic or full-moon harvested, but the savour is fantastic and they are willing to try growing what you like.
Joris Wijsmuller, head of sustainability at The Hague city council, is another fan. In 2013, the council launched a competition for sustainable food companies to find new uses for the former Philips building. UrbanFarmers BV was the winner, get free council supporting and a chance to rent the space, once it had raised private funding and a European loan via The Hagues Fund for Location and Economy( FRED ).
Its sometimes said that children who live in the city believe tomatoes grow in the supermarket or fish are born in the freezer, he tells. The municipality hopes the whole constructing will be a sort of gathering place for education, research and innovation.
But Annechien ten Have-Mellema, a pig farmer and former board member of the Dutch farmers union LTO, recalls that there wasnt so much exuberance in 2009 when she and the architect Winy Maas proposed a farm for 400 pigs in The Hagues city centre. They argued the pigs could sit nicely alongside the Prada shop and luxury automobile dealerships. I thought it was an important idea, to link the city and rural food production, she tells. But there was too much opposition.
It remains an open question whether urban farming is something more than a temporary fad. Durno , not amazingly, supposes more cities should adopt the idea. I think there is also a future for urban agriculture in the Countries of the middle east and Singapore. Qatar imports 90% of its food although our challenges are hot, light and gale, and there it is cooling.
Durno points to UrbanFarmers first farm, in Basel, which the company tells breaches even. The Hague outlet will open for business next month, and its new American operation, UrbanFarmers USA, hopes the first of 10 farms could open in 2017.
Jan-Eelco Jansma, a researcher in urban-rural relations at Wageningen University, belives the urban agriculture movement has legs: There are examples of viable commercial urban farms, but also growth in allotment gardens in the Netherlands and across Europe which are not interested in being commercial but have a huge, indirect effect on mental health and liveability in cities, he tells. Almere is a real frontrunner: half of its new, 4,000 -hectare city quarter Oosterwold will be urban farming.
I always refer to the debates about parks in the city in the past. I think in 100 years, urban agriculture will be as normal as the city parks we have today.
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