The Farm Urban team will be rapidly expanding over the summer, with a number of interns arriving ready to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in (quite literally) to all things aquaponic. As they follow their own interests and learn about different aspects of what we do at Farm Urban they’ll be posting on the blog and taking us along on their journeys, enabling us to see what we do from different, fresh perspectives.
First up is Eugenie, who arrived just over a week ago, from Lille, in France, where she is currently studying Territorial and Urban Development. She’ll be exploring what’s happening around urban agriculture in the city, particularly within local communities and how regeneration of the city has developed in recent years and the plans for the future.
Spending an entire week within the Farm Urban team is definitely not ordinary. You learn so much about sustainable development, but also about great human values.
If I sum up my first week, no matter how scientific you are, you can’t avoid a few ‘technical’ words: pump engineering, aquaponic systems, propagation, vertical farms, and so on. When you work at Farm Urban, there is always something to do, to think about, or to improve; you can go further, and change a small thing which will make a big difference.
For example, Farm Urban have installed an aquaponic system on the rooftop of the Student Guild at the University of Liverpool. Until now, a simple safety net has been used to cover the fish tank and protect the fish from the birds. However, the birds were still able to reach the fish through the net, so the team decided to build something more resistant. We created new covers using wire mesh which are much stronger and much prettier too.
Farm Urban are also working on an interesting system at the Wigan UTC school, which was the first school in the world to have a vertical farm. However, we found that many of the valves were leaking. This completely disturbed the functioning of the machine and the growth balance of the plants. All together, with our own skills, we worked to find solutions to fix the problem and improve the system.
Another thing I’ve learned during this week is the importance of communities and involvement in citizen initiatives. Going to meet people, associations, restaurants, other urban farmers, students is also essential for us all to improve and spread our own initiatives. These meetings can influence people and push them to act in ways which can benefit others. The Farm Urban team understands this, and tries to get involved as much as possible with initiatives which improve food quality in cities. A nice example of this for me is Squash Nutrition, a social enterprise based in Liverpool, which believes in food quality and equality for everyone. Every first Friday of the month they organise a lunch open to everyone within a peaceful and green garden maintained by the local residents. I felt really lucky to be part of this convivial lunch where you can share your ideas and meet other people who work on trying to change the city into a sustainable playground. I’ve been really seduced by this idea which I think should be highlighted more.
Also, because we care about the environment we have been getting involved in International Compost Week which took place from 7th to 13th of May 2017. This event started in Canada in 1995 and has kept going as people, communities, firms, and schools have realised the importance of composting and all the benefits food waste bring. Indeed, the waste from the kitchen can be turned into really rich nutriment for the soil. Farm Urban had an exciting delivery of three worm farms from The Urban Worm this week – these compost bins are used to feed worms which literally eat (almost) everything. The intelligent bin filters and creates highly fertilizing water which is great food for our plants. Let’s feed the worms.