New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'
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March 9, 2010. Homegrown Harvest: Britta Riley and Rebecca Bray tend to Brooklyn’s first window farm. This form of urban agriculture is catching on in cities around the world, as downtown farmers go online to share techniques for growing greens indoors.

Window Farming: A Do-It-Yourself Veggie Venture

by Jon Kalish
NPR.org
April 4, 2010

Excerpt:

If you have a green thumb, a window and a serious Do-It-Yourself ethic, you too, can be a farmer … even in your downtown apartment building. Spring is here, and for urban dwellers with no access to soil, hydroponic gardening is a way to grow fresh veggies indoors.

“Window farming,” as it is called, is catching on in New York City and beyond. Window farmers use recycled 1.5 liter water bottles, clay pellets, plastic tubing and inexpensive fish tank air pumps to create their indoor gardens. There are now 4,000 registered users at windowfarms.org. Farmers are tending to their greens everywhere from the U.S. to Italy, Israel and Hong Kong.

Last year in Brooklyn, N.Y., Britta Riley, 33, raised $27,000 for her window farms project through an online micro-donation web site. She’s a true Do-It-Yourselfer.

“I grew up on a ranch in Texas,” Riley says. “So we always had to hack together what we needed to fix fences and so forth.”

Riley’s project partner is Maya Nayak, 29, a professional gardener. Nayak has been growing herbs in her own window farm in her ground floor apartment. A sign in her window advertises windowfarms.org — and plenty of people have paused to check it out.

“We had to put up a curtain,” she explains, “because people come up and look. And you’re, like, ‘Wow, this is my living room.'”

The people staring in from the street see a window filled with vertical columns of plants. Vegetables and herbs grow with the help of sunlight and a little electricity — but no soil.

The window farms Web site provides instructions on how to put together a system that grows three plants. The materials will cost about $30 — and not all of them are traditional gardening supplies: water bottles, an aquarium air pump, air valve needles (like the kind you use to pump up a basketball), and a hanging system designed for displaying art.

See the rest of the NPR story here.

See the windowfarms website here.