“Climate change” and it´s effects on our daily life are a hot topic in public discussion today. The unpredictable and varying weather conditions of the future is a question of concern with food production and traditional agriculture, which faces entirely new challenges. With increasing urbanisation it becomes more and more important to figure out the ways on how to provide food for continually growing population globally. From these facts of concern arises urban farming and local food production as a new field for development and research.
Urbanfarmlab represents an indoor food production space with different food products growing in the same ecosystem. Food is produced in an ecological way, not using soil, but using e.g aquaponic or aeroponic growing methods. Urban farming will provide new meanings to what we understand today as “local food”. It will also provide a platform for studying the methods for growing both already existing and totally new food products for local use. Super healthy food products to be grown in indoor environments are of great interest.
At Urbanfarmlab, Metropolia UAS together with Sitra (The Finnish National Funds) is prototyping an indoor food production ecosystem together with start-up companies, and other important stakeholders in the field. The goal is to establish a symbiotic relationship between the companies where one food production environment benefits from the sidestreams of another environment (circular economy experimentations). The utilization of excess irrigation water, nutrients, and heat produced in the processes is possible, if this kind of circulation of sidestreams and raw materials is done successfully.
The plants are not in contact with soil as the growing methods have been delimited to hydroponic and aeroponic methods, only. These technologies have shown to increase the yield up to three times. Hydroponic hops, super healthy berries, tomatoes, and aeroponic potatoes amongst many other interesting food products and even new plant species are currently growing at Urbanfarmlab.
The space is also home to mealworms, crickets, and mushrooms, which use organic waste to grow. In the near future the space will also hold a vertical platform for growing leafy greens, and a microalgea farm, which can utilize the circulated, nutrient poor irrigation water of other plants.
Urbanfarmlab enables the collaboration of students, staff and companies in a unique colearning environment creating an interesting multidisciplinary platform for RDIL (research, development, innovation and co-learning) for all stakeholders. The companies get a chance to develop their production methods, technologies and business plans for the benefit of this new field of industry. And at the same time students get to participate and contribute to the companies’ design, development and research projects.
Metropolia Urbanfarmlab provides interesting networking opportunities for all stakeholders involved and it has raised interest for co-operation also amongst research institutes and universities. Urbanfarmlab opens up multidisciplinary paths for creating new businesses for better and more sustainable future in the field of urban farming and local food production.
Urbanfarmlab is located at Myyrmäki campus of Metropolia University of applied sciences (Leiritie 1, Vantaa).
Further information about Urbanfarmlab: Urban Indoor Food Platform