Hydroponics and community gardens: insights on the interaction between urban farmers and technology

S. Caputo, H. Rumble, M. Schaefer
Large-scale hydroponic systems, a highly resource and space efficient form of cultivation, already contribute substantially to global food production. Recognising the value of such an efficiency, a few hydroponic/aquaponics community projects and small social enterprises have recently been implemented in Europe. In addition to food production in itself, hydroponic gardening can be an opportunity in terms of not only enabling urban communities to produce their own food in absence of land suitable for cultivation, but also in re-skilling in a range of fields, from plumbing and energy resource management, to computer programing. The advantages of simplified hydroponics in a densely built urban context has been investigated before in the developing countries (see Facondini et al., 2010) and in the developed world (Laidlaw and Magee, 2016). We intend to build on the latter and generate further insights on the possible barriers to the uptake of soil-less, small-scale, digitally operated hydroponic systems from community of gardeners and people involved in gardening projects. Gardening is traditionally an on-soil activity, with associated benefits such as physical exercise and interaction with nature. We aim to understand whether a different, technology-based approach to food cultivation can be perceived as a limit from these communities. In collaboration with the community association Big Local Fratton, we are in the process of installing a digitally-operated hydroponic unit in a community garden located in a primary school, in Portsmouth, and ask gardeners to manage it. Interviews will be held between July and September with students and parents, volunteers of the community garden, and a wider community of gardeners connected with Big Local Fratton. This paper will present the initial analysis of the interviews.
Caputo, S., Rumble, H. and Schaefer, M. (2018). Hydroponics and community gardens: insights on the interaction between urban farmers and technology. Acta Hortic. 1215, 397-404
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1215.72
urban agriculture, simplified soil-less systems, interviews, technology's perception

Acta Horticulturae