Everyone knows that open land is the first requirement for successful urban farming. Or is it?
To demonstrate the flexibility of integrated sustainable design, some clever New Yorkers transformed an old barge into a working urban farm powered by solar, wind, and biofuels, and irrigated by rainwater and purified river water.
Using a system called recirculating greenhouse hydroponics, the Science Barge produces health, organic food in the middle of the Hudson River with no carbon emissions, no net water consumption, and no waste stream. As a result, the vegetables grown on the Science Barge require seven times less land and four times less water than field crops.
Because arable soil is scarce in densely populated cities, the creators of the Science Barge knew they had to come up with an alternative way to demonstrate urban farming. Hydroponic systems deliver the nutrients plants need to thrive through a closed irrigation system instead of through soil.
By using only collected rainwater and purified river water to irrigate our crops, the Barge does not tap into water sources that are necessary for providing drinking water, etc. In the greenhouse, this water can be used over and over again, allowing us to use much less than a farm on land.
Vegetables grown on the Barge are harvested every other week during the growing season and donated to a local church and the new Environmental Food Team.
Why a barge?
Although the systems on the Barge were designed for rooftop farms, a touring barge makes us more visible and accessible to the public. A barge is a great place for an urban farm for the same reasons a rooftop is; it receives direct sunlight and more wind for the turbines and can be installed in urban areas.