A commercially led project, "Sky Green Farm" designed by entrepreneur Jack Ng is Singapore's first 'commercial vertical urban farm'. Located in the dense metropolis of Singapore, the farm contributes to the practice of urban agriculture, producing up to 0.5 tonnes of vegetables daily as of October 2012. The farm utilises a series of 9 metre high aluminium A-Frames (termed: A-Go-Gro), which allow plants to be stacked inside rotating belts; which in turn rotate allowing plants to receive equal light, air and irrigation - all within single frame footprint of 5.57m2.
With demand for produce outstripping supply, the farm plans to expand with output expected to rise to 2 tonnes a day by the end of 2013. It is envisaged that via increasing cultivation and promoting urban agriculture, Sky Green Farm will be able to increase Singapore's consumption of 'locally grown produce' from 7% to 10%.
Why is this Example Inspirational?
The Sky Green Farm project provides an inspirational example of how urban agriculture can be integrated within the confines of a dense urban metropolis in a: commercial and ecological way. It provides a framework model for farmers and/or entrepreneurs internationally to follow.
Project Successes and Failures: do's & don'ts
Success for the project, stems from its demonstration of how urban agriculture can be deployed both in a commercially viable and sustainable way. Paraphrasing the farm's own statement: it is the world's first low carbon hydraulic water-drive tropical vegetable urban vertical farm... able to produce, in a sustainable way, safe and fresh produce; with minimal land, water and energy resources.
Ethically, the project is reported to currently distribute its produce via an exclusive supermarket chain which can demand high prices. Whilst, this is a success in commercial terms it can prohibit proportions of the population from accessing the benefits of the produce. Additionally, the capital expenditure and attainment of land within a dense urban area may prove difficult, especially considering that the expansion from 120 to 300 A-frames is expected to cost S£27million alone.
A final note, refers to the efficiency of such a growing mechanism in alternative climates and urban locations where for example sunlight may not be as reliable or intense, and it must be determined what can and cannot grow effectively.