ISSUE 05 | INTELL

Farming hits the town

Will the next big manufacturing sector be urban food production?

Urban farming

Will the next big manufacturing sector be urban food production? It’s already starting to happen in cities around the world, from domestic-scale hydroponics units and specially built warehouses to industrialised, automated, underground farms.

Welcome to the wonderful world of ‘agritecture’. The pluses: food is grown close to consumers, all year-round in light- and climate-controlled environments. 

Up-and-running schemes include Growing Underground, which produces fresh salad leaves for Ocado and M&S using hydroponics and LED technology 33m below the streets of Clapham (see our Top 10 Factory Tours for details). 

And at SEGRO’s Business Park at La Courneuve in Paris, two farmers’ sons are growing strawberries in cleverly converted shipping containers for the capital (pictured). At Agricool the fruit is grown 120 times more productively than before, using 90% less water and nutrients, and consuming only renewable energy. 

Meanwhile, in the pipeline is food-tech business Plantagon’s vast World Food Building. This 60m-high ‘plantscraper’, which is due to complete in Sweden in 2020, is part of a new exhibition at Roca London Gallery. London 2026: recipes for building a food capital imagines how buildings that can grow food will impact the cityscape by 2026, when the capital’s population will have passed the 10m mark. 

And later in the year, London’s V&A Museum will explore how new technologies might change the way we grow crops and raise livestock. 

If such schemes take off and get rolled out, they will have the potential to redefine farming.

FIND OUT MORE

London 2026: recipes for building a food capital at Roca London Gallery runs to 18 May

Food: Bigger than the Plate at the V&A runs from 18 May to 20 October

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