How to make your own low-tech vertical farm (Low-tech Magazine / Kris De Decker / Willem Van Cotthem)

Read at : Low-tech Magazine

How to make your own low-tech vertical farm

Low-tech vertical farm

The ingenious low-cost vertical farms of Willem Van Cotthem are within reach of everybody.

Vertical farming has become a popular idea, but what is mostly forgotten is that the energy required for the operation and construction of vertical farms largely negates the ecological advantages. This also applies to small-scale systems, like those of Philips (a concept) or Inka Biospheric Solutions (a product).

Window farms

A while ago two New York ladies made headlines with their “Window farms“, described as a kind of low-tech indoor vertical farming system (illustration above). Upon a closer look, however, I found the method to be rather high-tech and cumbersome, in spite of the use of plastic bottles. A window farm is based on hydroponics, it makes use of lamps, pumps and electricity, it still requires you to buy quite a lot of new stuff, and the whole thing would surely come crashing down if I were to install it.

The Belgian professor Willem Van Cotthem seems to have designed a do-it-yourself vertical kitchen garden system that truly deserves the low-tech label. On his blog, “Container Gardening“, he explains how to transform normal plastic bottles into efficient containers (and a container rack) for growing all kinds of plants, even young trees (to be transplanted when reaching sufficient height). The beauty is that the water supply can be automated without the use of electricity, and that his way of installing a vertical garden looks much simpler and sturdier.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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