Urban farming in cities is an alternative, innovative method that can replace conventional agriculture. This project is focusing on the solution that a company called Grönska Stadsodling developed a system for vertical farming in Huddinge, Stockholm. The project is Europe’s largest indoor vertical farm.
Why best practice: Positive environmental and economic impacts
Vertical farming does not just save water and makes the irrigation system more efficient. It can also be of help solving problems such as the lack of agricultural spaces in urban areas, and minimize the need for transportation of vegetables and nutrient leakage, such as phosphorus and nitrogen from agricultural lands.
Grönska has developed the technology for vertical farming and among other things, explored how circular systems and synergies can be created between vertical farming and the city with a focus on nutrients recycling. They have carried out test indoor-farms with various plants that have different needs for light and nutrition. Throughout this process, Grönska has concluded that the best way for a circular system is to optimize the use of sludge from biogas plants as a fertilizer. That is how nutrients can best be reused from residues from biogas. This needs to be further tested and developed to be able to be converted to large-scale use in vertical farming. Other variables in the circular system were investigated too, such as carbon dioxide and energy, however, these are more complex to implement as they depend on the local type and surrounding premises.
The success factor
Grönska managed to construct large-scale vertical cultivation in southern Stockholm, which is now in operation. Today, they produce ready-made salads and herbs sold to three wholesalers.
The story behind
Today, more than half of the vegetables we eat in Sweden are imported and 80 % of all arable land is already cultivated. As urban sprawl consumes fertile land for food production, agriculture has been confined to the countryside, where industrial food production has been the priority for efficiency. In Sweden, this idea of industrial production is shifting to more alternative and sustainable food production. Urban farming has been a symbol of ecological and social sustainability for several Swedish municipalities during their process of land use planning. In the biggest cities such as Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg, the municipalities are encouraging citizens in urban farming, at the same time as new start-ups like Grönska are emerging.