• Fish on the Roof is a witty technology involving artificial symbiosis of freshwater fish species (like trout) and vegetables. It was developed and presented by German experts.

  • Project developers are photographed with the container for both fish and plants. This box could be placed on a roof of an urban building, since it doesn't require much space.

  • The inner world of the aquarium, where fish excrement is transformed into organic fertilizer. By the way, the plants also nourish on carbon dioxide exhaled by the fish.

  • First tomatoes grown in the container fish farm. They could be harvested in containers all year round. These farms require only energy for lighting and heating.

  • Plants in this container farm grow on a specifically developed mulch that protects them from weeds and certain diseases along with unwanted moisture loss. The water cycle in the farm is closed.

  • The roof of the old malt plant in Berlin is soon to become Europe's largest urban farm. It is outlined to produce industrial amounts of fish and vegetables there.

  • The container height allows to grow tomatoes and cucumbers along with small bushes like raspberry and blackberry.

  • First cucumber grown in the fish farm was 27 cm long and weighed 600 grams! It was immediately eaten, then considered the most delicious and juicy vegetable ever.

  • Farm is visited by German Ministry of Agriculture. It is the project of the future for overpopulated Europe, since it cuts down the consumption of water by 50% and requires 70% less of space than conventional farms.

Urban Vertical Farming:

Growing Veggies in the Snow

Over 70 per cent of world's water resources are spent on agricultural needs. Whenever Berlin Tech University graduates figured this out, they got puzzled how to change the current situation. This is how they came up with the new idea of farming – aquaponics – not to be confused with hydroponics. The details of their invention are covered in the slide show above. And we shall move from the Brandenburg Gate to the Palace Square, that is, St. Petersburg.

Apparently urban farming initiatives are rather common to Mother Russia as well.Natalia Nemchenko and Vladimir Berezutsky tried to use one of the city lofts as a greenhouse for their first strawberry farm.

Strawberry farm in St. Petersburg industrial zone

– We found a loft, built a greenhouse and planted the strawberry seedlings, – says Natalia. – When professional agricultural engineers checked out our project, they were pretty much shocked. To them, no newbie could obtain such good results the very first year!Strawberry grew rather fast, and soon the experimenters harvested the first berries. – They were truly delicious, unlike ground strawberries grown in our northern lands! – adds Natalia. – We enjoyed every single berry of what we managed to gather.

However, the lack of experience led to a failure: soon all plants died of blight, a fungal infection. But farmers were far from waving goodbye to their ambitious ideas. They moved to city outskirts in the south-west of St. Petersburg for the summer. They came up with an idea of vertical ridges designed for growing strawberries by a local inventor. The results were a lot better: fresh air wouldn't let the diseases spread so rapidly, while the farmers wouldn't spend all their time managing the greenhouse. However, they both admit that these projects still have a lot to be improved, and this work might last for decades.

Vertical ridges were used for strawberry farming as well

– Still we think that our project worked out, – concludes Natalia. – Strawberry fields in a city industrial zone are possible to create, and we prove this! Unfortunately we need to obtain more stable results for steady collaboration with restaurants and organic food deli and groceries. The experiment is to be continued, but currently we are short of money. We invested basically all our savings in this experiment, and now are searching for an investor to go on experimenting in urban farming.

The Agrophysics Institute of Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences located in St. Petersburg is also involved in an urban farming experiment granted by the federal budget.

– We are working on an agrocomplex that would be suitable for growing all kinds of greenery in urban environment, – says Gayane Panova, department head of the Institute. – The agrocomplex would be situated in the basement of our Institute. It would be used for growing parsley, green onions and dill, along with fennel, edible chrysanthemum and mallow.

Square territory of the basement greenhouse is 54 square meters. Similar agrocomplexes developed in St. Petersburg are already used for urban cultivation of tomatoes and cucumbers. Yield of such greenhouses is times higher than that of conventional farmlands.

– Our climate allows us to obtain an average yield of 40-50 kilos of tomatoes per season, and harvest of cucumbers is even less, – says Gayane Panova. – Our system helps us to obtain a yield of 120 kilos of tomatoes and 140 kilos of cucumbers per square meter. By the way, we are not pressed by farming seasons either. Vertical farming allows us to harvest vegetables 4-6 times a year.

Such agricultural complexes are a true innovation! With optimal artificial lighting and other conditions the farmers barely use any water at all. Same goes for the fertilizers, and such farms do not require any pesticides. Electricity consumption is 30% higher comparing to conventional farms, but it turns out to be even less when calculated in relative units, the experts assume.

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