YEAR TWO INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH STUDIES
TASK: COMPLETE THIS AND SUBMIT BY T1W5
Research Topic (Global Challenge): Lack of agricultural space. Food shortages.
Chosen Area of Focus: Urban Farming
Group Members’ Names:
a)David Khoo Yi Chong
b)Andrew Lo Zhi Sheng
c) Wayne Low Ka Shin
d) Gerald You Geo Loong
Statement of problem (framing our research topic):
With the world shortages in food. People have to turn to the most sustainable source of food, agriculture. However, agriculture and farming takes up a lot of space and resources. Causing people to think of different innovative ways to save space and inculcate efficient usage of their limited resources like water. Over the years, from the Inca’s terrace farming to hydroponics. Man has invented new ways to survive and thrive in every stage of life.
Instead of clearing even MORE natural habitats for farming. Why not grow crops in every little nook and cranny in the cities?
This will allow people to save natural habitats, sustain food sources, and even provide fresh air in the city. Urban farming is mushrooming all over the world and many organisations are also adopting this practice. But to solve the problem thoroughly we need to introduce urban farming to a much larger scale, to really satisfy the world’s needs.
Farming also helps cultivate good habits in people, and can also serve as a form of hobby. Certain Projects such as Community farming* have proven to be successful at creating bonds between neighbours that would otherwise never meet. This is also another take that could be given on urban farm, to provide a beautiful and clean environment to enable neighbours to foster bonds.
By the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth's population will reside in urban centers. Applying the most conservative estimates to current demographic trends, the human population will increase by about 3 billion people during the interim. An estimated 109hectares of new land (about 20% more land than is represented by the country of Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food to feed them, if traditional farming practices continue as they are practiced today. At present, throughout the world, over 80% of the land that is suitable for raising crops is in use (sources: FAO and NASA). Historically, some 15% of that has been laid waste by poor management practices. What can be done to avoid this impending disaster?
*(HDB. (2013, August 03). New plans for integrated development in woodlands unveiled to better address community needs. Retrieved from http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10296p.nsf/PressReleases/BC463A2A5198783148257BBB0032EF92?OpenDocument)
The vertical farm project. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.verticalfarm.com/
We plan to review the current ways of urban farming that are available and in use, and review the quality and efficiency and compare it to it’s cost to review which method is more suitable to be done in a larger scale. Next we will analyse the pros and cons of each method and analyse, then come out with a innovated method of ours, to maximise cost-efficiency and quality. We can also need learn the various methods by observing urban farming entrepreneurs who can facilitate effective and efficient plant growth.
And also as mentioned above, as farming can be considered a leisure and community involvement project, we want to make two systems. One that is unmanned that can operate with automated features, and another that has to be manned, but is very user-friendly. The unmanned one is designed for use in offices and other environments, and the manned one is set in void decks and spaces between housing blocks.
Literature Review (Brief summary of at least 3 sources that you have consulted with reference to your research topic)
1. (HDB. (2013, August 03). New plans for integrated development in woodlands unveiled to better address community needs. Retrieved from http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10296p.nsfi/PressReleases/BC463A2A5198783148257BBB0032EF92?OpenDocument)
As i live around this region, i can truly feel the passion and the effects of this project. The farm is small and enclosed within a cage, but inside it houses a whole variety of herbs and plants. During a visit to the urban farm on a weekend, I observed one of the elderly residents tending to the plants while sharing knowledge about the plants to another resident, presumably her friend. I was delighted to see this scene and wanted to know if the farm could be used for educational purposes, so i went to visit the farm again later in the day, and sure enough, the elderly resident welcomed me in. In the small farm housed herbs of all shapes and sizes, and i learnt a lot about plants, nature and also a farmer’s duty. This source confirmed my point that an urban farm need not be unmanned and could be opened up to residents for educational and bonding purposes
2. Sidewalk , S. (2014, January 22). Benefits of urban farming. Retrieved from http://sidewalksprouts.wordpress.com/ua/benefits/
I liked this website as the pros and cons of urban farming were presented in a very simple straightforward way, and that the author was very enthusiastic about urban farming, the topic he was writing on. The blog is dedicated to the topic of urban farming and we also drew a lot of inspiration from there
1. Breece, G. (2014, 02 05). Revolutionizing the urban farm. Retrieved from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/videos/category/video-contest/revolutionizing-the-urban-farm/
This website was more of a link to a video to a project that this person, Ben Greene, was making. This project named “The farmery” is a project where the food is grown and sold at the same building, saving costs and the trouble of all the shipping measures, and effectively making the crops tastier, better and more cost-efficient. In The Farmery, customers can cut their own crops, that will be used to make salads and other foods at the cafe, or could be sold to them in the grocery section of The Farmery, giving customers a whole new experience. The Farmery will be located in middle-income urban groups, in the city and is planning to also target lower income regions. This video really inspired me and sort of awoken my passion for urban farming, and seeing the money that Ben Greene has acquired from his *kickstarter project (25,095 USD) shows that the community is willing to fund similar projects.
*Ben, G. (2012, August 24). Kickstarter project: The farmery. Retrieved from https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/farmery/the-farmery
There are several factors that will affect the growth and development of the plants. A few factors are the quantity and quality of water given to the plants. A plant that has too little water will wither, but one with too much will also wither. Hence, we will need to find out the optimal quantity of water for each plant. Also, having the correct type and quantity of nutrients in the water will encourage better plant growth.
Research Plan (Describe how you intend to design your research i.e. who/what you are going to research on, how many respondents, your study area/location etc)
In order to find out the necessary information, we will have to visit various gardens/farms around our neighbourhoods and note the enthusiasm of the residents in preserving the farms/gardens. Alternatively, we can note the methods in which these farms/gardens are automated(e.g. hanging the plants to a wall one on top of the other so excess water not absorbed by the plants above will trickle down onto the bottom ones). We can visit various places such as the small garden beside the carpark in SST which uses rainwater for water.
We could also study companies such as Sky Greens who use vertical farming techniques to grow vegetables. We can also see how overseas companies like Gotham Greens who are producing pesticide-free lettuce and basil for restaurants and retailers from rooftop greenhouses in Brooklyn. Or Lufa Farms, which grows 23 veggie varieties in a 31,000 foot greenhouse atop a Montreal office building.
DOUCLEFF, M. (n.d.). Sky-high vegetables: Vertical farming sprouts in singapore. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/11/06/164428031/sky-high-vegetables-vertical-farming-sprouts-in-singapore
Analysis of data
(n/a, our tests are not complete)
Overall assessment on feasibility and manageability of the research (justify why your research can be managed and results be achieved within the time-frame)
The research is rather feasible and manageable. We can achieve our results within the time frame because we do not have to wait very long to grow green beans, as it can sprout and grow at a considerable rate, at a very short time span of a single week, while still observing the impact of hydroponics, as it is grown on a base of water and cotton wool.