The ability to adapt to different circumstances or new environments and come up with simple solutions to daunting problems is an act of genius. The WindowFarms project, a super efficient way for city dwellers to grow their own food in their apartment windows, originated by artists Britta Riley and Rebecca Bay, is exactly that: Brilliant! Their simple design uses recycled or easily available materials from the local hardware store and their first experimental design produced 25 plants and salad for a week during mid winter in a dimly lit 4’ x 6’ NYC window.
Hydroponic systems used to grow plants inside have been around for years. The drive to become more self sufficient by growing your own food, even in urban settings, is also a well known and explored idea. Even using recycled materials to accomplish this has been done before also. WindowFarm’s Riley and Bay’s new idea was in the creation of an open forum and online community to research and develop new and innovative solutions – a model previously used by successful software designers. Their vision was to “empower urban dwellers to grow some of their own food inside year-round”.
So far the WindowFarms community has over 13,000 “farmers” in several countries. The input provided by its members in one year has contributed to many improvements to the initial system. It’s a process they call R&D-I-Y (research and develop it yourself). According to the founders, “the targeted result is for participants to have a rewarding experience with “crowd-sourced innovation.”
Since its inception windowfarms.org has now expanded to offer workshops in New York for new people interested in WindowFarming, and encourages outside members to do the same in their own locations. Kits are now available for purchase on their website for those who want to try it out but do not want to create a system themselves. And with the help of parents and teachers, a curriculum is being developed to help get urban area schoolchildren involved with the indoor food growing experience.
For more information visit www.windowfarms.org