Australian urban farming company sees accelerated demand for home-based food gardens

Posted by Media Release Agency on 31st March 2020

With Australians spending more time at home, many households are looking at growing their own fresh produce to build self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

Biofilta, a Melbourne based urban farming company, has developed a highly productive, water efficient, modular wicking bed called Foodcube, which enables people to build instant productive urban farms in backyards, carparks, workplaces, rooftops and schools, to assist communities to produce large volumes of fresh food in small city spaces.

In the past month, Biofilta has experienced a significant spike in interest in the Biofilta Foodcube from Australian households interested in being able to rapidly produce super-local food in a challenging environment. 

Over the past 12 months the Australian designed and manufactured system has been deployed to urban farmers, schools, workplaces, and also food vulnerable and water stressed communities such local and indigenous communities in Australia and the Pacific Islands who are having difficulties growing and accessing fresh produce.

Biofilta has spent the past 8 years developing their rapidly assembled modular farming system to help cities and householders become more food secure, and to deal with rising food prices, climate change, drought and other unexpected events where local food production becomes very important.

Biofilta is made locally and can be rapidly set up by anyone to start growing food immediately.  The self-watering garden can be assembled in a day and it only takes four to six weeks to be generating a stream of fresh produce.

Biofilta is currently deploying several hundred Foodcube units per month, sufficient to produce approximately 7.5 tonnes of produce per annum, or to generate sufficient fresh produce to meet the annual vegetable intake of 50 adults by weight as recommended by the World Health Organisation, who recommend an annual consumption of 150 kilograms of fresh produce per annum for a healthy adult. The average order coming through is 5 – 10 Foodcubes and soil, with each Foodcube able to produce 25 kilograms of fresh produce per annum, enabling the average urban farmer to produce 125 – 250 kilograms of fresh vegetables and herbs per annum in their backyard or growing area.

Small urban farms are producing food such as tomatoes, corn, zucchini, spinach, silverbeet, herbs, spring onions, bok choi, beetroot, spinach, pumpkin and a wide range of herbs in the Biofilta Foodcube. Householders can pair their Biofilta Foodcube wicking garden beds with a home composting system and direct this compost in to the Foodcube to close the nutrient loop and reduce organic waste to landfill.

Foodcube costs only $399 for each unit plus delivery and soil and typically, and with each Foodcube being able to produce $250 of produce per annum at supermarket prices, the payback is within 2 years.

Attributed quotes
Biofilta Director Brendan Condon said today “ After 8 years of R&D, our Biofilta Foodcube wicking bed urban farm system was officially launched in September 2019 and interest has grown steadily from householders interested in sustainable living and having greater access to fresh food, as well as to hedge against increasing costs of fresh food linked to the drought. We are watching the big increase in demand for urban farms with interest as people are becoming more focused on the benefits of having fresh food growing within arm’s length in their backyards. It is a positive sustainable shift that is likely to be permanent.”

“We are pleased to be able to meet an increase in demand for people looking to become instant urban farmers. Growing food in small spaces in our cities has many benefits – nutrition, exercise, mental health, community building and self-reliance. We developed the Biofilta Foodcube system to increase resilience in our communities to things like drought, climate change and rising food prices, and it is great to see broader community recognition of the importance of growing local food in the face of increasing challenges.”

About Biofilta’s Foodcube

• Biofilta designs and manufactures water and space efficient, modular urban gardens, which can be used to grow large volumes of food in a small space

• Manufactured locally in South East Melbourne from UV stabilised, long life, durable, food grade waste stream plastic that is diverted away from landfill, reducing Australia’s plastic waste problem

• Monitoring of a range of existing farms shows that each unit can grow 25kg of vegetables per annum from 1 sq meter of growing space

• The gardens are raised and ergonomic for ease of use by people of all ages

• The system uses 60% less water than a standard garden bed

• Proven, long lasting product that is designed for harsh conditions

• Designed for rapid assembly, Biofilta Foodcubes can be joined together, allowing the creation of instant very large modular farms to be assembled by small teams within days, and to be creating fresh produce within weeks and capable of creating tonnes of fresh produce

• Each Foodcube module storing a large reservoir of 110 litres of stored water, held in the base of the unit. The advanced wicking bed system uses capillary action to keep plants watered, making the system highly water efficient and low maintenance, storing enough water to keep the garden hydrated, reducing watering to once a week in warmer months and even less in cooler months

• Foodcubes are low maintenance, with clever design retaining water at the base and away from surface weeds, reducing weed growth compared to conventional soil-based gardens 
• Designed to attach netting and lattices that keep pests away from valuable produce, as well as grow vertical crops such as tomatoes and vines

• Able to intercept composted organics to produce food, diverting some of the 4.5 million tonnes of foodwaste produced in Australia from ending up in landfill

• Able to be dressed with a variety of claddings allowing for high end presentation in any architectural setting

• Able to be adapted as tree-planters allowing for any space to become an instant orchard or olive grove