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MICROFARM water storage

A lightweight small unit which can provide food/income. Potential to filter/store rainwater, be made from local materials & compost waste.

Photo of David Cole
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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Providing access to basic human needs is critical for urban poor, shelter, food and water are the at the forefront of these needs. The microfarm project aims to help meet these needs and potentially provide a sustainable revenue stream over time. The idea is relatively simple and is a design for a closed loop growing unit which can be fabricated from a number of materials making it easily assemblable across a range of geographic locations. For ground mounted units the growing chamber can be filled with compost and soil & for roof mounted units a hydroponic rooting sponge material is used to reduce weight. The design contains a number of chambers which allow for rooting and water storage/treatment as well as a modified designs for growth of root veg or ground nuts & a dark growing unit for mushrooms. The design can be scaled up or units can be joined together to meet a range of contexts or site needs. The idea behind the project is to provide people with a way of maximising the small amount of space they have. For each location tests are done to see which crops can yield the most return and if a number of growing cycles can be achieved each year. The challenge to find ways for people to not only meet their basic human rights but to exceed this & have access to healthy food & potentially sustainable income streams. The microfarm project reduces people's reliance on largescale farming, empowers communities to share/swap produce & educates families on selfsufficient strategies

WHO BENEFITS?

The benefits directly go to those that take on the microfarm project. A number of skilled labourers can be taught how to assemble the unit and can make a living from helping people install and set up the microfarms. Once up and running the family can reap the benefits of fresh food and potentially selling produce. We would like to implement a pilot project in a number of locations across South East Asia where we have offices that can monitor the project and explore further opportunities.

HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?

Production of food and access to clean water are critical to human life. The growth in informal settlements and the drive towards urbanisation has led increasingly to large scale agribusinesses taking over food production. This business contributes to the production of green house gasses and in people become more distanced from the natural environment, losing the ability to provide for themselves. Localising food production not only reduces carbon and improves local air quality but it also reduces need to transport food, harnessing the idea of closed loop systems and permaculture. Urban slums can become wastelands of refuse, human waste and standing water, by giving people a means to microfarm we provide a strategy to use the waste to grow food and create revenue streams. The microfarms become incubators for enterprise and tap into existing market stalls and shops driving revenue back to those living within the community. The lack of basic infrastructure for sanitation and water common in urban slums leads to multiple health concerns, by educating people about microfarming you "Plan for the ordinary, not just the extraordinary" teaching principles of healthy eating, composting, clean water treatment & various other important environmental factors. Microfarmers use no machines to plant, tend or crop and no pesticides or preservatives. The roof top unit can reduce overheating of internal spaces & therefore reduce the need for fans or other electronic cooling devices. Being home based systems they lend themselves to being managed by caregivers & can provide income to women...

IN-COUNTRY EXPERIENCE

  • Yes, for two or more years

EXPERTISE

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

  • Yes

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

I am the founder of Building Trust international a nonprofit organisation that tackles a range of global issues through design. We have worked with communities and NGOs to improve the design of housing, education & health facilities, establishing sustainable livelihood programs across our projects.

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Photo of Andrew Gamble
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Hi David,

I've submitted this idea https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/urban-resilience/improve/urban-gardens-in-the-slums-of-djibouti-repurposing-wastewater-to-combat-malnutrition, and it seems like there may be a chance for us to collaborate. 

One of the biggest challenges that we are going to face in Djibouti is finding the space for the gardens. The landscape inside the slums is very hummocky, rocky and dry.  It sounds like your units are pretty flexible. I'm wondering if you have had experience in this type of environment. Is it possible to stack the units and make a vertical garden, when space is very tight? We are planning to use treated water from water treatment plants that are next to the slums. 

I would love to get your thoughts on our idea.

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