As an introduction to the Urban Farms concept, in the next couple of posts we will be introducing and exploring the technologies we are investing in on the farm and providing an insight into the environmental benefits of these technologies.

We will start at the top with our greenhouse and the technologies we are adopting.

Greenhouse Drawing

Why chose to grow produce in a greenhouse?

Our greenhouse uses computer controlled roof-vents, reflective solar screen, energy-efficient circulation fans and humidity systems to provide the ultimate naturally ventilated growing space for our herbs and lettuce crop. The computer used inputs from an external weather station as well as sensors inside the growing space to provide optimum conditions for healthy plant growth.

In order to optimize production, the following environmental factors need to be controlled in the greenhouse:
Temperature: optimized by using the roof vents to expel warm air during hot conditions, using the screen to reflect excessive light from the growing area to reduce temperature or to trap warmer air in the growing area during colder conditions.
Humidity: controlled by re-circulating air and controlling humidity using fans and humidifiers in addition to bringing in fresh air via the roof vents.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2): our urban environment actually helps as the higher levels of CO2 in the city provide optimal conditions for photosynthesis.
Light: required for photosynthesis and optimal plant growth, our Highveld light conditions are exceptional for year round production. During the mid-day period on sunny days, our reflective solar screen will reduce the intensity of the light to an optimal level when deployed.

These factors are optimized by controlling / managing the air volume within the growing area. Due to the efficiency of these systems and controls, the greenhouse enables the year round production of sensitive crops. Providing Urban Farms with the ability to drastically reduce the carbon footprint of crops like basil, parsley and rocket that are in demand at our clients restaurants all year round.

What’s Integrated Pest Management?

The controlled environment of the greenhouse in addition provides opportunities for us to implement integrated pest management (IPM) systems to eliminate the use of all pesticides from our production cycle. IPM is simply the release of “good” bugs into the greenhouse to control pests. For example we will use beautiful ladybugs to control aphids within the greenhouse environment. IPM in combination with a sterile farm environment has been proven to be highly effective in eliminating pest problems.

By ensuring an optimal growing environment for our crops and IPM controls; Urban Farms is able to grow the highest quality produce, with no pesticide use, in the city right on our customer’s doorstep.

The benefits of the greenhouse environment for our customers include:
• a greatly reduced carbon footprint (90% less)
• maximum freshness and highest possible nutritional content (delivery on the day of harvest)

In our next article we will cover the systems implemented on our rooftop Urban Farms factors to optimize the final 2 factors for optimal food production:
• Moisture
• Nutrition