Tag Archives: urban agriculture

STEP BY STEP BUILDING THE FARM, phase#2

During a few sunny spring weekends we work with a bunch of friends to install the farm on the parking rooftop Dansaert2, and to bring the farm to its full capacity: 44 containers of 125cm x 125cm. The containers are palox europallets, recycled from small fruit&vegetable companies. They are made of hard oad wood. We customize the containers on different heights, suitable for growing herbs, greens, roots and small trees.
The construction workers next doors help us to bring up soil and other materials with their crane. When the basic outline is nearly ready and the hardest work is done, Continue reading

THE DIGITAL GARDENER & THE VISIBLE WEATHER

We connect local OpenGreens in an international network of experimental gardens where artists work with natural processes.
These gardening situations serve especially to look into microsociological and ecological systems related to time as starting points for the development of new artistic practices. The OpenGreens allow us to study the implementation of contemporary art in an ecological context and to observe and draw content from eco-data and natural patterns and processes.
Using media technology and electronics as research tools in these shared laboratories, data from various ecosystems are collected over a period of time. Continue reading

HISTORY & URBANISM: SENSE OF THE CITY

I discovered that the location of the 2 rooftopgradens has a rich history, tracing back to 1235, when the convent of the ‘White Sisters’ was established. In 1456 Philip the Good integrated the White Sisters in the cloister of Jericho. The address was on the Oude Graanmarkt, right around my corner, and their land had a surface of 4 hectares. They had vegetable gardens and orchards and even their own brewery. It is great to know that we can add another layer on top of this wonderful history. Continue reading

KNOW YOUR SOIL: REQUIREMENTS FOR BIO-DYNAMIC VEGETABLES

Each different crop will be grown in a wooden palox box of 125×125. With 1m3 (1 cubic meter) of soil we can fill up 4 to 5 boxes with a layer between 12 and 30 cm of bio-soil, mixed with compost or ecoveen (along the needs of the plants). At dewinter groencompost, we ordered in januari 2012: 6 x 1m3 teelaarde + 2 x 1m3 edelcompost + 1 x fijne groencompost + 1 x ecoveen.
In februari 2012 we put a complementary order of: 12 x 1m3 teelaarde (from which 5m3 will be prepared in 10 bigbags Continue reading

STEP BY STEP BUILDING THE FARM, phase#1

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler. Einstein

December 2011 I made the first designs for the creation of an Urban ArtFarm.
The Urban ArtFarm (2012) is an extension of the existing edible rooftop garden (2009). The 2 intensive rooftopgardens are situated on top of adjacent parking lots and are physically connected. The edible rooftop garden is specialised in mediterrean and medicinal plants, herbs and flowers – all with an important nectar/pollen value. Continue reading

SITE SUSTAINABILITY & PERMACULTURE PRINCIPLES

Sustainable gardening: design, construction, operations and maintenance practices that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This can be reached by attempting to protect, restore and enhance the ability of landscapes to provide ecosystem services that benefit humans and other organisms.
Checklist: local climate regulation; air and water cleansing; water supply and regulation Continue reading

VIRTUES OF A FOREST GARDEN

A forest garden is a garden modelled on a natural woodland. It has 3 layers of vegetation: trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. In an edible forest garden the tree layer contains fruit and nut trees, the shrub layer soft fruit and nut bushes, and the ground layer perennial vegetables and herbs. The soil is not dug and annual vegetables are not normally included unless they can reproduce by self-seeding. It is usually a very diverse garden, containing a wide variety of edible plants. Continue reading

URBAN CORRIDORS

name: urban corridors, project, year start: 2011, year end: ongoing, techniques: urban gardens, local communities, bee colonies, communication technologies, observation technologies

Inspired by the flight routes of city honeybees and looking at where they are going and what they are bringing back, I am setting up the Urban Corridors project.
 It is remarkable to see how a bee population functions and evolves very much in accordance to the human activites we are developing around them: gardening and urban agriculture.
The production of honey is different related to the flowers we grow, the plants we like, the garbage or pollution we produce. Honeybees are very responsive to the different biotopes that we share, they are considered to be good bio-indicators. Though we seem to have rather few insight into what constitutes the diversity of our surrounding living place, and that’s something we want to research on a deeper level.
In previous projects -as there is the connected OpenGreens database- we developed different tools for identifying the specificity and relatedness of the changing assemblages of plants, insects and related human activities.

urban artfarm
Urban ArtFarm on Brussels’ rooftops

Adding new sensor networks to a series of connected (rooftop) gardens and gathering the data in our audiovisual database Pandora as well as on opensourcedata.net, we want to portray the surround Canal Zone in Brussels as it is changing over time into a continuous productive urban landscape.
It is a diverse area where a lot of activities (from accidental nature to collective and community gardening and urban agriculture) develop between the industrial buildings, office zones and living areas. 
With this project Ecological Corridors, in which city honeybees play the leading role, we want to research how the sustainability of cities can be increased in the future and how citizens can be actively involved.

This movie (2010) is documenting the ongoing Brussels OpenGreens project. The project was initiated in 2008, by the OKNO media lab and by the art organisation So-oN. It is a research on the ecology of urban habitats, guided by the observation of city honeybees.

bee-mapping
mapping bee flightroutes in the city

We put forward Ecological Corridors in urban environments as a new medium of social sculpture, a Gesamtkunstwerk that relies on the creative participation of many. Corridors are ephemeral living structures in the form of green spaces connected through animal life, such as bee colonies. They are set up and maintained by urban communities to regenerate areas of the city, particularly areas which are subject to social and urban stress. Corridors are here seen as art works that contribute to social cohesion and sustainability by raising awareness and minimizing resource waste. Artists create the safe spaces that enable the disruptive activities required to make corridors and they make the internal structure and activities of corridors visible through visual and auditory representations.

Ecological corridors rely partly on methods of urban agriculture, guerilla gardening, ecological management and social anthropology.
Corridors can also make good use of avant-garde technologies, so that such projects become experiments on the edges of art, science and technology: Embedded systems, novel sensors, low energy computing and sensor networks are useful for monitoring soil quality, plant growth processes, animal activity, pollution and the movement and interaction of people within the local environment. Mobile communication and geoinformatics are useful for aggregating sensory data and projecting them in real time onto maps. Complex systems analysis, cloud computing, and machine learning are useful for detecting patterns to allow prediction and the shaping of ongoing social and biological processes. And novel user interfaces are needed to make embedded technologies accessible and usable without requiring sophisticated background or training.

With the ‘bee-mapping’ of the connected biotopes around the Brussels canal into a Corridor, we hope to come to a new but sensitive representation of our own living environment, not only providing insight in the constantly changing conditions we live in, but also bringing forth a new material from which new ecologial artworks can be created, be it installation, performance, media art or literature.
Together, the research becomes a fragmented but growing territory where everyone can connect and contribute to, and where slowly relationships and patterns emerge from. We want to work with creative ways to raise awareness, not only about our shared surroundings, but also about the ways we can spread a change that makes sense with a wider than anthropomorphic view only. In a world we share. Guided by social insects, the bees, following them on their flights across the land and cityscapes we live in.
 We see this as a multifaceted work made over time by artists, technicians, and scientists together, but also involving an audience, by now skillful with ICT and interested in ecological and urban issues.