Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Window Farm?

Proof that it's possible to grow some food anywhere even in a small apartment in the middle of Brooklyn, NY.

Those of us with small spaces may never be wholly food self-sufficient, but every project like this gives us one more opportunity to free ourselves from the industrial agriculture machine and puts us one step closer to food security.

The Window Farms project website has a lot of information and plans on how-to get started in hydroponic window farming ... and the best part? Most of their "farms" repurpose stuff that would have ended up in the waste stream.

Every project like this gets us that much closer to the hundredth monkey ;).


  1. Wow, that's really impressive, especially the collaborative, iterative process of refining the idea.

    Personally, I've always been leery of hydroponic growing systems, because they are so dependent on humans to formulate and deliver nutritive solutions for the plants. I'm a big believer in the synergy and wisdom of what goes on in healthy soils. I don't think we humans are smart enough to replicate that in a solution packaged and sold in a plastic bottle.

    Would I consider doing this if I lived in a high rise apartment? Almost certainly. I'd want a vermicompost bin to make vermicompost tea, to contribute some of the nutrients. But I'm really - really - grateful that I have actual soil to grow my food in. City window farms are certainly a great idea to make the best of a not-so-great situation though.

  2. Although I live in the suburbs, it's one of the suburbs in which we aren't allowed to erect fences that would keep the deer from eating our gardens (we might not survive the collapse of civilization, but our monoculture yards will look damn good while we're dying, which is apparently what counts around here).

    So I'm always intrigued by ideas such as this that could allow me to put crops in areas that are protected from the local wildlife. Plus I would hope for the bonus that it would bug the tar out of the neighbors that someone could have a honking huge picture window chockfull of this stuff and THERE'S NOTHING THE NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION CAN DO ABOUT THE FACT THAT IT DOESN"T MATCH THE REST OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD. Because, yes, I have a lot of subversive gardening fantasies ....

  3. Gail - you can't have a fence, but what about a raised garden? I don't mean a raised garden bed sitting on the ground, but what about a table top garden, or a raised garden?If you put it on casters, you could even roll it in and out of the garage (assuming you have a garage ;). Deer are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. If your garden isn't outside at dawn or dusk, you can be pretty well assured the deer won't get it ;).

    You might also try hanging gardens (assuming that this isn't against your HOA restrictions). I have one of those children's swingsets in my front yard. Basically, it's an A-frame, and when my girls get too big for it, it will make a very nice framework for any number of planting projects. In fact, it could be a huge vertical garden all by itself with the use of strategically placed containers and supports ;).

    Subversive gardening fantasies are great ... and I fully support them! ;).

  4. Swing sets are great for growing green beans.

    I love the window farm project. There's a project to get honey bees going in London and Hong Kong has always been surprisingly food self sufficient. You can grow food just about anywhere.

    You might want to check this out:
    Her book Farm City is a great read.

  5. Michael - I'd seen bee projects in urban areas, and I think it's a fantastic idea - one I hope catches on all over the place. I suspect the colony collapse disorder has as much to do with how the bees are treated (i.e. moving them from crop to crop for pollination purposes), as it does with some of the chemicals to which they are exposed. I don't know as much about bees as I hope to learn, but I wonder if they might be a wee bit territorial, and moving them around messes them up. Personally, I think they have a better chance of surviving and hopefully thriving if we start raising them on a much smaller scale - and in a sedentary location.

    I've actually met Novella Carpenter, and I've read her amazing book. It is a very good read, and I highly recommend it ;). I also love her blog, and I'm a regular visitor there ;).

  6. Those are amazing. I wish I could put things in windows where I live. They are pretty strict here: absolutely nothing in the windows. I can't even set plants on my window sill. I can have them touching the window sill, but not on them.
    The jack-booted manager told me they just wanted everything to look "uniform". "What if someone had flowers in their windows and you had vegetables in yours? That wouldn't look too good." I got written up over about setting a plant out on my porch for a few hours. It was just a little teeny one, but no, "If you set that out there than someone will put a giant elephant plant on their porch."
    Didn't mean to ramble. haha. Sorry.
    But that is such an amazing idea. All those able should definitely utilize the technology. I even saw chard in the video. Wonderful.