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360° model for urban farming

An urban farm and water treatment plant combined

In late 2019 Smart Farmers is building a large aquaponics urban farm in Ghent on behalf of the Urban Smart Farm cooperative. The experiments and lessons learned in the project ‘360° feedback for urban farming’ are the direct input for the development of this aquaponics farm. The plot earmarked for this project is located on the Aquafin site.

Smart Farmers is a developer that builds aquaponics farms and aims to sell its technology internationally. Water stress and water shortages are on the rise all over the world, particularly in agriculture and horticulture. Therefore, linking agriculture with water treatment - i.e. water reuse - offers great potential. In fact, water supply will be a key factor for farms in the future and in safeguarding the food supply all over the world. Urban agriculture offers plenty of opportunities for participation, which increases the scope and commercial opportunities of urban farms. In many cases, it is only the higher middle class that is active in urban food production. We want to see how we can break this vicious circle and encourage all inhabitants of the city to take part in this experiment, giving them easy access to fresh, locally produced food and showing them the amazing art of urban farming.

We aim to push boundaries and locally explore a new or amended spatial framework.

Urban agriculture is gaining ground, but keeps facing space limitations. The legal framework is vague and hampers the growth of this model. We are bringing stakeholders in urban planning and agriculture from Ghent and Flanders together to define clear conclusions and recommendations on urban agriculture. The mission of Urban Smart Farming Gent cvba is to give the inhabitants of Ghent access to their own food production. Urban Smart Farm Gent cvba is building a zero-waste farm with a surface are of at least 1,000 sq.m. where hi-tech and natural technology go hand in hand with job training and social development.

Concretely, we are linking an aquaponics farm with an urban water treatment plant. We will cultivate fish, shellfish and crops in a single eco-system, using hi-tech methods like vertical farming and natural production methods. This food production eco-system will be linked with the eco-system of a large city.

The by-products of the water treatment plant will be used for food production: residual heat, CO2, energy and residual fractions from the water treatment process will be used as raw materials on the farm.

Het ecosysteem

Smart Farmers BVBA

Partners Aquafin, UGent, aPart vzw, Cera CVBA, Stad Gent