In the United States, some have accused nanofarmers of elitism, arguing that only the privileged can spend the time it takes to cultivate such small-scale gardens.
However, in third world countries, nanofarming technologies are being applied to stave off hunger among the very poor. In Kenya, a kind of nanofarm called a “multi-story garden” is providing fresh food for people living in crowded urban conditions, or in rural areas with soil that is too hard and dry to farm.Family Heath International profiles this Kenyan farmer, Nahashon Njuguna, who is successfully feeding his family using these multi-story nanofarms after the death of his two daughters from AIDS impoverished his family and left him to care for his orphaned granddaughter.
Check out this fantastic compilation of historical photographs, posters and videos documenting and promoting victory gardens during and after World War II, including this barely believable London 1943 garden in a bomb crater. Some of the examples are on a somewhat larger, micro-farming scale, but many qualify as nanofarms.
I was sad to miss this fall’s nanofarming workshop at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. They promise a follow-up in Spring 2010, so keep your eye out for that.
Now you don’t even need .01 acres of outdoor space to practice nanofarming: you can do it right in your window. A few smart window farmers have developed plans for a hydroponic curtain of plants fashioned from plastic bottles, that you can cultivate right in your kitchen (or bedroom or bathroom or livingroom) window. An excellent idea for the office, too, where there are often large scale windows that can accommodate more extensive plantings. Plans for building a window farm are available as a PDF download at the link above.
Spotted in J.J. Byrne Park: a quantity of improvised planters made of soda bottles attached to lamp posts. Crops include broccoli, pole beans, radishes, swiss chard, mustard greens and more. This tiny farm makes excellent use of difficult-to-access unused spaces that have full sunlight. It also appears to use the self-watering design for the soda-bottle planters recommended below, which should reduce the maintenance and watering — always a great challenge in nanofarming efforts.
More evidence of the robust nanofarming trend comes in the form of this truck farm. Filmmakers Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis are documenting a summer of farming on their truck bed. Cheney and Ellis are even offering a sort of nano-CSA: for a $20 subscription, you’ll receive a share of the fresh food produced at summer’s end.
The plot of corn at the Smith and 9th Street subway station documented in this blog’s header makes excellent use of unused MTA acreage for food production. If such a strategy could be employed system-wide, it could have a real impact on the city’s food supply. If each of the New York City Subway’s 153 above-ground stations planted just 5 tomato plants each, the MTA would produce an estimated 11,475 pounds of tomatoes.