With our urban food bowls shrinking, we need to find ways to feed ourselves in less space or we become more reliant on importing from further and further afield. Melbourne’s fresh food bowl for example has been reported to shrink from 41% grown locally to 18% by 2050.
The average urban backyard is also shrinking due to land prices increasing which means that fewer people enjoy the traditional home veggie patch many of us grew up with. Walking out to pick salads, herbs and other vegetables for dinner is simply not an option for many urban dwellers in apartment buildings.
Despite the bleak picture, there are areas of common land that are often overlooked and sometimes never looked at – the roof.
In the City of Melbourne alone, there is 880ha of roof space on buildings. From this area, approximately 235ha was identified as being suitable for “intensive green roof space”. While this area may not be earmarked for food production, we think that urban food production using simple, well designed technology should be incorporated into designs to improve the long term sustainability of our cities.
The Foodwall range started as a vertical system with the growing tubs stacked in a frame where space is an absolute premium.
Pictured above is the installation in Bay Street, Port Melbourne where a 10m2 garden sits on a 3m2 footprint. Installed in July 2015, this garden has now delivered 102kg of mixed vegetables which has been donated to the local community kitchens. Water use is also measured to confirm that the advanced wicking tubs use only 4.8litres of water per m2 per day on average to produce the food.
Biofilta has expanded it’s wicking garden range to include a modular, advanced wicking garden system that is light weight, easy to install and highly water efficient… and it grows great food too.
The new Foodwall Lite is aimed at apartment living and roof top gardens where communities want to live more sustainably but don’t have a lot of time to tend to gardens. The Foodwall system holds enough water for a week of hot weather and optimally provides the vegetables with the water they needs through its wicking design. So, after filling on the weekend, you can rely on the Foodwall to be watering itself during the week, saving hours of time with the hose.
Designed and made in Melbourne, the Foodwall Lite system can be connected in rows to cover a roof top space with an easy to access garden system that doesn’t need the roof to be water proofed as most green roof systems need.
Since each tub is connected, the system is sealed and no special water proofing of the roof is required.
The Foodwall Lite can be arranged in a single row or back to back configuration to cover large areas of otherwise unproductive roof area or courtyard.
Shown above is a simple setup with a few color variations of the tub and the vertical system in the background for comparison.
The system can be “dressed” to hide the tubs and framing at additional cost.
Biofilta thinks that a well designed green roof can now incorporate real food growing capability to help mitigate the urban heat island, reuse roof water for integrated storm water management and assist with turning our cities into catchments and food bowls.