Far from surrendering to the choked cityscapes of movies like Bladerunner, it looks like the city of tomorrow might be a much greener place – that is if the people behind projects like Dublin’s Urban Farm have anything to say about it.
Establishing a sustainable, carbon- and waste-conscious farm three floors up in the city centre may sound like a challenge, but it was one founder Andrew ‘Dougie’ Douglas apparently relished.
Equipped with aquaponic allotments, grow barrels, vertical plant beds and worm towers made from materials salvaged, up-cycled and repurposed on the spot, Douglas and his team transformed the abandoned roof of the Chocolate Factory arts space into a suitable home for fish, fowl, bees and no less than 160 varieties of potato.
Though still establishing itself, Urban Farm’s goal is to one day produce food that (in the farmers’ own words) is grown from ‘local rain, local compost and local sunshine’. Even more importantly, the farm is also an educational centre: a farm school.
Weekend workshops covering everything from carpentry to food production have become a hit, answering a need for closeness to real, under-your-nails nature many modern Dubliners feel.
Douglas and co. aren’t the first to try to shoehorn some green space into an increasingly urbanised Dublin: Trees on the Quays, a daring plan to transform an abandoned bank on Dublin’s quays into an urban park, met a wall of red tape last year.
Meanwhile in Milan, the astounding Bosco Verticale project is currently in development, while Dublin collective Upstart are set to launch a long-planned pop-up park. It seems the green is growing, and the efforts of rooftop farms are at the heart of this social change.
Perhaps Douglas has succeeded because he started small: a few square metres of prime rooftop real estate, some scraps of material and a lot of elbow grease were all he needed. That, and a lot of optimism. From small seeds grow great things, after all…