Urban Farming

Urban Farming in Town Centres: Food for thought… literally!

PeachyKeen’s main focus has been creating electricity sustainably using human movement. Specialising in the mechanics, electronics and activities required for fitness and playground equipment. However our knowledge base can be extended to generate electricity through other renewable energies including wind, hydro and solar technologies.

We firmly believe that the great British High Street is changing and with change comes exciting possibilities AND opportunities. Your local High Street can be seen as a space for urban farming, a factory, a power station symbiotically linked with retail and residence. Just imagine a High Street capable of producing a large percentage of, and better still, all its electricity requirements to power new, clean technologies that would allow people to live, work and play in the centre of town.

Take a moment and imagine your own High Street. Large buildings lying dormant. Now picture these buildings brought back to life. Contained in these buildings could be the production of renewable energy. The cultivation of edible plants using hydroponics for urban farming. The manufacture of products using evolving technologies based on 3D Printing. The selling of grown produce direct to the public or delivered via electric cargo bikes to local customers.

The once boxed in windows shine again although they seem different as they are solar panels capturing indirect, reflected light. Enter through the main doors, an aroma of fresh salad crops, herbs and soft fruits fills the air. A food hall is packed with nutritious, vibrant produce grown on the premises available throughout the year.

Children have their own play area with all the activities creating and demonstrating renewable energy, allowing them to recreate and literally plant the seeds of sustainability. Adults also have their own ‘play area,’ a 24 hour gym where all the pieces of equipment with moving parts act as mini generators harvesting electricity.

Where, you may ask, is all this edible greenery coming from and what systems are in place to nurture and power such an enterprise?

Similar in principle to the redundant tube tunnels in London or carpark roofs in Singapore, urban farming is taking place using hydroponic and vertical growing technologies. Where the process of farming plants uses water, a growing medium and a nutrient solution rather than soil. Nutrients, light, water, temperature and other environmental factors are controlled, allowing maximum yields in limited space.

Plant nurseries can flourish inside these buildings, adapted to suit any size of space. Filled with aluminium shelves illuminated with intensely bright red and blue LED light. If you listen carefully you can hear the soft trickle of water that is gravity fed and re-circulated on a programmable schedule.

The cultivation areas are modular, with scalable containers that can be configured to grow a whole variety of tasty greens and juicy fruits. Grown independently of the external seasonal weather conditions, these crops are available year round.

The loading bay is a hive of activity with eager staff processing online orders. Electric cargo bikes are ready for local delivery. In the corner is an electric van on charge ready to venture further afield.

Up on the flat roof, row upon row of vertical wind turbines, are high enough to capture the wind from any direction and low enough to be hidden from view.

Rainwater is channelled down drainpipes to storage tanks that provide water for the cultivation areas. Funnelled en route through a water turbine system, which in turn creates electricity. The height of a building lends itself beautifully to the required header height.

Our local High Street provides unique opportunities to establish these new ambitious enterprises. Building on proven success, imagine if all the energy generating elements described here could be cleverly incorporated into various buildings along with smaller hydroponic/vertical urban farming systems.

In the spirit of stronger together and with the emergence of creative technologies there is perhaps another opportunity to establish design and manufacturing businesses in the High Street.

Within the power house that was an empty High Street store, equipment could be made on site to establish and maintain this edible, energetic enterprise. Expanding on the concept of self-made components, why stop there?

Utilising techniques based around 3D Printing and traditional skills all sorts of useful items could be made “just in time” to order. Utilising the High Street, we can take advantage of the physical infrastructure, yet preserving its architectural character.

Pooling the resources of initiatives like Developing the Young Workforce through local schools and colleges to nurture people as well as plants. A path of progress from Primary to Further Education is available in the local community to provide meaningful experience, with real, exciting technologies.

All the seeds to reinvigorate Town Centres are readily available – especially in our minds. To grow a sustainable, productive High Street that encapsulates the important areas of our work and play life.

This strengthens our community and benefits everyone with a viable response to climate change.

Well: “Don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so.” – Belva Davis

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