Windowfarming – The New Veggie Garden
“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With hydroponics, tubes and pumps, and plastic bottles all in a row.”
Such is the idea of Britta Riley and Rebecca Fray, two New York artists who in February of last year created an artist installation at Eyebeam Art & Technology Center called a ‘windowfarm’ to demonstrate how inner-city, apartment dwellers can grow their own fresh veggies. As well as creating this neat alternative to a veggie patch, they also wanted to give the message that growing your own food is “the most effective action an individual can take for the environment” suggesting that it would reduce the huge carbon footprint left by the food industry.
Windowfarms are small, hydroponic veggie gardens that hang vertically in window spaces, constructed out of recycled materials, most commonly plastic bottles. They allow you to grow one plant per container using an inexpensive hydroponic method (i.e. no soil).
Since the initial windowfarm installation, the ‘Windowfarms Project’ has been carried forward by Britta Riley. She aims to encourage people to create their own windowfarm systems, experiment with methods that suit them and share their knowledge and findings with others. She sees the whole project as a research collaboration with each personal experience adding to the improvement of windowfarming as a whole and enabling us all to take a joint step forward in creating a more environmentally friendly and enriched world.
In order for people to share knowledge, she has set up a website where windowfarmers around the world can exchange ideas, ask questions, and post pictures of their own creations.
Here are some examples of recent windowfarm installations taken from the website blog.
- In Finland, a dedicated team have constructed an elaborate and quite beautiful windowfarm in the window of Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum in Helsinki growing 81 plants.
- Someone has set up a technically elaborate system in their home with computer automation for the control of the water pump.
- A 12-plant windowfarm creation was the centrepiece at the opening ceremony of Hong Kong’s annual Microwave New Media International Arts Festival.
Plus there are loads of smaller, individual set-ups with people growing herbs and flowers as well as veggies on their window sills at home or in offices.
It’s really interesting to see what people have done, I recommend checking out their posts. The photos of the windowfarms are fascinating; ranging from the simple, to the amusing, the beautiful, to the highly complex. Someone has even posted a picture of the pizza they cooked garnished with the basil grown in their windowfarm.
A windowfarm makes a kitchen garden possible for everyone wherever they live. As stated on the Windowfarms Project website, “Growing some of our own food is a simple pleasure that can make a big difference in our relationship with nature. As we choose nutrients to feed plants we hope to eat in turn, we gain experience with a nearly-lost fundamental human art, get a microcosmic view of the food system, develop a stake in the conversation, and come up with new ideas for how to take care of ourselves and our planet in troubled times. Let’s make this experience possible for anyone!”
Window farm photo courtesy of The Windowfarms Project
Leaf photo courtesy of Clearly Ambiguous