Want to start your own urban farm ? To assure the success of such a project and produce fresh greens and vegetables for a long time, it is important to make sure your project is carefully planned and managed. Here are the main steps you should follow to ease the implementation of the urban farm in your building and make it as effortless as possible.
1. Define your “why”
What motivation pushes you to start this project ? Is it to get invested in your local community, to provide fresh food for your tenants or get involved in environmental initiatives at your level ? Having a clear idea of the benefits you are hoping to achieve from this project will help you communicate it better to your stakeholders.
Moreover, it plays a crucial role in the operations, as arrangements regarding the destination of the crops will depend on it. Will the crops be offered to local food banks ? Employees ? The building cafeteria ? These are questions that need to be defined as they will provide guidance for the whole project.
2. Get surrounded
The success of an urban farm depends a lot on its installation and regular maintenance. No one wants to promise crops that will never see the light of day. Therefore, it is important to be well accompanied in order to ensure that the garden will blossom to its full potential all season long.
Here is the approach we recommend to follow to assure the success of your project:
Opt for a complete service
An urban farm does not manage itself. Indeed, you will need to be surrounded by people available to provide weekly maintenance, collect the crops, showcase the initiative in the building, assure customer service… It can easily become overwhelming ! An experienced team can also help provide external promotion, customized branding and even share its knowledge through interactive workshops. As you can see, opting for a turnkey service can definitely make a difference and provide a better return on investment
Look for an environmentally-invested partner
The main goal of hosting an urban farm is to generate a positive impact on society and the environment. It is therefore essential to choose a partner sensitive to environmental issues and whose activities take into account their potential impact on ecosystems. Thus, go for urban farmers following sustainable and ecological principles !
Partner up with an experienced team
Expertise makes all the difference when embarking on this kind of project. Make sure your partner is a professional in the field, with proven standardized methods, a transparent process and straightforward indications, as to avoid any bad surprises.
Go local !
Working with a local partner is a great way to stimulate the local economy and fuel employment opportunities in your region. It is a nice element to look for when choosing a partner !
3. Location evaluation and risk assessment
To facilitate the process and ensure a thriving vegetable garden, an expert in urban farming should be there to assist you and provide advice regarding the best possible location. The evaluation will take into accounts several elements such as the orientation of the area, sun exposition, wind, security, water access and material unloading access. Keep in mind that a good partner will make security its priority and ensure that the project complies with the safety norms dictated by the law.
4. Prepare the site
If you choose to partner up with an experienced team, most of your job is done for the installation of the urban farm. When the season starts, it will be important to make sure your site is ready for the project by checking some small elements:
Functional Water Access: Make sure in advance that the water system is functional to avoid bad surprises during installation.
Eased logistics: Putting in place a vegetable garden will require many back and forth from the operational team. You want to make sure their path is cleared by informing your security staff, making sure parking space is available, giving the right keys to access the site, etc.
5. Share the project with your community.
Because an urban farm is not an initiative to keep secret, take the time to properly communicate it with your tenants, employees, students and partners. These individuals will be the ones enjoying the benefits of the urban farm and it is important to make them understand the motivations behind it. Your members will be pleased by this project and take pride in it. Your partners can be of great help to you by providing educational workshops, posters, newsletters, announcements on social media and much more !
6. Let your initiative grow !
Hosting an urban farm on your property goes beyond growing greens and vegetables. The vegetable garden can also become a learning platform, where tenants or colleagues can reflect, come together and develop a sense of community around a meaningful project. There is nothing that brings more people together than food ! From celebrating the abundance of harvests in September to organizing group cooking activities, there are plenty of opportunities to spend good times around the urban farm project.
Moreover, workshops about ecological agriculture can educate individuals and push the movement even further by bringing those good practices at home. The impact of your sustainability initiative will thus see itself multiplied by the individual actions of your members. In brief, the project can become part of the social culture of its surrounding environment !