The future home: self-sufficient in meat, fish, vegetables and fruit

An experiment in self-sufficiency will transform a previously derelict Manchester printworks according to so-called vertical urban farming techniques that could be a hallmark of future food production. [Click pic to enlarge]

Future homes and workplaces are set to be transformed into complex food production systems becoming self-sufficient in meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, according to research due to go on public display in Britain for the first time next month.

The extraordinary potential of so-called vertical urban farming techniques to feed growing city populations will form one of the centre pieces of this year’s Manchester International Festival. Thousands of festival goers are expected to visit the site of a formerly derelict print works on the banks of the Irwell in Salford next month to glimpse the future shape of farming, gardening and shopping.

Based across different levels of the building and surrounding grounds, the project will demonstrate how vegetable, mushroom, meat and fish production systems are able to feed naturally into each other to generate food crops requiring a minimum of tending.

The Biospheric Project is the brainchild of Manchester Metropolitan University PhD student Vincent Walsh from Wythenshawe who for the past two years has been conducting a unique experiment in ways that city-dwellers and designers might respond when oil resources are depleted.

As well as offering a pre-industrial antidote to the suburban allotment the project could also provide a blueprint for supermarkets in the next century where produce is grown in-store rather than being imported from across the world.

“Food is the social fabric of our community. It was the thing that always connected us but that has been lost,” said Walsh.

“If supermarkets disappeared tomorrow how many people would know how to feed themselves? Very few. That shows how disconnected we have come from our food for whatever reason. That is what the biosphere is all about. To understand and make us more resilient,” he added.

At present the Biosphere offers a fairly limited diet of freshwater fish, mushrooms green leaves, apples, pears and the occasional citrus fruit or plum.

But according to the project founder, the potential is limitless. The concept is based on the traditional African agricultural traditions where crops are grown above each other – for example, coconuts above bananas, over coffee and ground tubers such as yams…..

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