Vertical farms help China grow more fresh produce

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 19th April 2017

Architects in China continue to develop innovative solutions to China’s lack of quality farmland.

Situated across 100 hectares in Shanghai, the Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District features vertical farms similar to the skyscrapers which already dominate the city’s landscape.

The architecture company behind the urban farm, Sasaki, says over the last two decades China has lost over 123, 000 square kilometres of farmland due to urbanisation.

Of the land that is left, roughly 200, 000 square kilometres cannot be farmed easily because of soil pollution. With a lack of available land, property prices are also prohibitive for conventional land-based farming.

Sasaki however says that 56 per cent of vegetables consumed by Shanghai’s 24 million-strong population are leafy greens, which are ideal for vertical farming.

“Leafy greens thrive in the simplest of setups and don’t need a lot of extra attention, so they are an excellent choice for hydroponic and aquaponic growing systems,” Sasaki said in explaining the project on its website.

“They grow quickly and weigh little, both of which make them an economical and efficient option,” the company said.

More than just vertical farms

Sasaki says the Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District will provide more than just vertical farms with the public able to explore the space and learn about fresh food.

“Sunqiao not only addresses Shanghai’s increasing demand for locally-sourced food, but also educates generations of urban children about where their food comes from,” Sasaki said.

Sunqiao has been named a finalist in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards which aims to recognise businesses, policies, projects and concepts which innovative solutions to the issues facing humanity.

The project was chosen as a finalist from 1, 200 other entries with the lead designer of the project, Ming-Jen Hsueh, saying the recognition was a great honour.

“Our persistence in exploring new ideas in response to the issues facing modern society was at the core of our design philosophy for Sunqiao,” Hsueh said.

Construction on Sunqiao is expected to start in 2017.


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