Here’s the thing about cities: they’re awesome in many ways, but in other ways they suck. For instance, lots of people living close together usually means access to decent public transportation and smaller, more efficient living spaces. It’s also easier to walk or bike to instead of driving. However, urban density does have its drawbacks.
The worst thing about cities is that they usually lack open space, especially green space. Urban dwellers have become quite creative when it comes to cramming tiny gardens or flower beds into places that you might not expect. Rooftop gardens in particular are quite popular, but they too have their limits, especially if the building is old. That’s why Japan’s Daiwa House Industry developed a parking-space-sized vegetable factory that’s perfect for urban farmers.
As Japan’s largest home builder, Daiwa is used to creating much larger structures, but this compact hydroponic vegetable factory proves they’ve got some expertise in smaller prefabricated designs as well. Called the Agri-Cube, this semi-portable greenhouse only needs a space the size of a single parking space to work.
As this review points out, the self-contained greenhouse comes with a water recycling system and adjustable fluorescent lighting (instead of sunlight) to nourish the plants. Under the right conditions, the cube can grow up to 10,000 heads of lettuce per year–all for approximately 45 cents a vegetable, when electricity costs are taken into account, according DigInfo.
While it doesn’t take advantage of the free renewable energy provided by the sun, either for power or for growing, there are some major advantages to using the Agri-Cube for urban farming. First, it protects the plants from drought, bugs, and air pollution–all of which are becoming more of a problem in cities thanks to climate change. Second, at $70,000 it’s probably too pricey for the average homeowner, but it’s ideal for hotels, restaurants, and apartment complexes that might not have the ground space to dedicate for growing.