SUMMARY: Jellyfish Barge (JFB) is the floating modular greenhouse for Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture that generates its own fresh water and energy, using only solar power. It is an affordable, transportable and replicable solution to grow food in or near the cities without impacting on existing resources.
PROBLEM SPACE: Emerging sciences, technologies and practices around food are redesigning the global food chain. Production of food needs to increase its efficiency to fulfil a growing demand (+80% by 2050, according to FAO), while supply model is shifting from macro economic efficiency to distributed resilience, with the aim of shortening distribution lines and reducing local vulnerabilities. Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture (UPA) provides such a strategy by increasing access to fresh and healthy food, reducing food miles and contributing to increase food security. In addition, UPA contributes to urban regeneration stimulating economic activities, promoting social inclusion and improving food literacy. At present, UPA provides employment and income to about 800million people and roughly 20% of the world’s food. This figure is likely to increase, as urban population grows quickly. But, cities grow, demand for food increases, while per capita resources diminish, thus farming have to compete for land and water access with other activities. Where to find hectares of farmland near the cities? Where to find millions of cubic meters of fresh water per year to irrigate crops? And, even most importantly, how to fully exploit UPA potentiality to produce social and economic impact on urban communities?
SOLUTION: “JFB is a production facility for UPA, taking into account ongoing changes in the whole food chain. A typical installation (4 greenhouse modules and one zip connection module) produces 5000-6000 edible plants per month, grown in high efficient hydroponics. Water needed is extracted from the body of water where the greenhouse floats, whether salt, brackish or polluted water. All the need for energy is fulfilled by sun power. Thus, JFB doesn’t impact on existing land, water and energy resources of the city. It just expands the capacity of the urban environment to provide job, economic opportunities, social relations and urban quality.
The connection module is a common space where developing a weekly market and didactic or leisure activities (solarium, tai chi or whatever people and associations want to do). The greenhouse module can be an intensive production facility, the extension of bars and restaurants proposing self-grown vegetables, or a community garden. At last people can experience agriculture in their daily life!
JFB is composed by: 1)A buoyant structure floating over recycled empty drums. The greenhouse has been designed to be lightweight and as solid as a truss frame 2)The water management system produces fresh water through solar distillation at an amount suitable for growing crops within the greenhouse. We add a percentage of seawater, rich in nutrients, to reduce the amount of salts to be added. Also, JFB cools its internal environment exchanging heat with the waterbody and gets warm using wastewater from the distillation unit. 3)PV panels guarantee the small amount of electricity needed for pumps and fans. The systems are automated and remotely controlled to increase the ease of use. We collect data from our installations to predict the future behaviour of the system in different environments and to guarantee its replicability and adaptability to different conditions elsewhere.”