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Next-Gen Urban Farms: 10 Innovative Projects from around the World

For related articles and information, please visit OCA's Organic Transitions page.

Lufa Farms in Montreal, Canada, grows vegetables on two sprawling rooftop greenhouses today and is expanding to two more. Photograph: /Lufa Farms

Many shoppers like the idea of buying local. After all, it can mean fresher and healthier foods, stronger local economies, direct contact with food producers and in some cases — but not always — lower carbon emissions.

But most of us have only a few options for participating in the local food movement: visiting the farmers market or signing up for a community supported agriculture (CSA) subscription. As the movement continues to grow and evolve, however, social entrepreneurs are experimenting with novel ways to make local agriculture an integral part of urban life.

Here are 10 of the most intriguing projects currently underway:

GrowUp Box, London, UK 

In a 20-foot shipping container, GrowUp Box farms tilapia in tanks and uses the waste to fertilize greens, which are cultivated in vertical columns. Photograph: GrowUp Box

Kate Hofman and Tom Webster are giving new meaning to the phrase "box lunch" with their reinvented shipping container, the GrowUp Box.

Inside the 20-foot container, tilapia are farmed in tanks specially designed to ensure the fish enough room to grow, while on top, greens are cultivated in vertical columns. The water from the tilapia tanks circulates through the columns, where the fish waste provides nourishment to about 400 plants. The fish and greens are sold to area restaurants.

The project's parent company, GrowUp Urban Farms, consults with people looking to build their own boxes and is set to start building the first commercial-scale aquaponics farm in London soon, Hofman said.


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