In July, the Russian capital hosted Moscow Urban Forum 2021, the world's largest international convention on urban development. More than 350 foreign and Russian speakers, up to 7,000 participants, and about 20,000 online viewers joined the event. The experts discussed the practices adopted in modern sustainable cities and reviewed the case studies of the world's largest capitals that have been in the lead for many years.
The main theme of this tenth-anniversary iteration of the forum was “Superstar Cities. Lessons from Successful Transformations”. Today, a superstar city status is hard to obtain: in a world where technology is infinitely varied and the competition for human capital is infinitely intense, the vanguard is formed by the boldest ideas and the most unique projects.
Aside from the traditional offline discussions, the forum also had online speakers joining in from everywhere around the world. One of them was Peter van Wingerden, CEO and founder of Floating Farm. He spoke at the session “In Food We Trust. Technologies and Trends in Urban Farming.” The world’s first Floating Farm was opened in May 2019 in the Port of Rotterdam. Since then, 40 cows have been producing healthy milk and organic manure.
Example of a floating farm in Rotterdam, Netherlands
Why the floating farm?
Our planet is under tremendous strain and we are (in) directly experiencing the consequences. Climate change, rising sea level, and the predicted growth in world population from seven to nine billion people will significantly increase the need for fresh (potable) water, clean energy, and healthy food.
This pressure will exert itself particularly on the production and consumption of goods, including foodstuff and its ensuing logistics chain. In the Netherlands, agricultural transport is responsible for one-third of the entire freight transport. Food production within proximity to the consumer allows the logistics chain to shorten drastically. Producing food within cities will help raise awareness of food production, reduce food losses and the pollution associated with transportation.
Sustainable, circular and animal friendly
Floating Farm produces day-fresh dairy products using animal-friendly and sustainable methods. The production is circular: the nutrients, energy, and water cycles are closed as much as possible, to recover minerals and other nutrients.
Together with partners, Floating Farm obtains 80% of all the feed for its cows from residual waste-streams in the city. The Farm collaborates with beer breweries, golf courses, bakeries, and city retailers who provide orange peels after they have pressed fresh juice.
The cows at Floating Farm are the most natural biomass upcycle animals: they turn controlled city-bio-waste into healthy protein for human beings. The manure from the cows is in turn processed into organic fertilizer for plants and parks in the city of Rotterdam.
Cities in delta areas that have a strategic location, where waterways flow deep into the city center, are particularly suitable for the floating high-tech solution. Besides, to make our food chain less vulnerable to climate change, especially flooding, and to relieve pressure on the environment through less transport and loss of food, floating high-tech farms can be a solution in cities, where space is available. Moreover, Floating Farm can sustainably and efficiently contribute to an autonomous food program.
Options in Russia
City administrations and start-ups all over the world are working on developing better technologies for city farming. Russia is no exception. Moscow and other progressive Russian cities are creating pathways for city farming. Vertical farming market volume in 2017 reached $2.3B and by 2023, the 20% annual growth is expected to make it $7.5B. Such an explosion of interest in local food production has several drivers. Urban dwellers pay more attention to eating healthy. Taking into account the above-mentioned factors, Russia can be considered as a location where progressive solutions like the Floating Farm can be applied.
Besides the fact that such projects are an essential part of a circular and sustainable city, a Floating Farm is open to the public and can play a role of a tourist attraction. As we know, domestic tourism is growing in Russia. So, a Floating Farm can be an added value for the southern cities located at the seaside which attract a lot of people during the summer season and holidays.
The import substitution policy of the Russian Government provides many opportunities for local Agricultural sector development. As a result, a lot of attention is also paid to education in the sphere of agriculture. Floating Farm is also about education. Showing the entire food production and processing in a very transparent way.
For more information:
Ministry of agriculture, nature and food quality of the Netherlands