A trio of German entrepreneurs is hoping to convert an old industrial building in Berlin into the world's largest rooftop farm. Plans for the self-sustaining organic spread, which should be up and running by 2013, include a fertilizing fish farm
BERLIN - If all goes as planned, a sprawling organic farm will soon be up and running a stone's throw away from a six-lane autobahn in Berlin's Südkreuz industrial zone.
By spring 2013, tons of lettuce, kohlrabi (a variety of cabbage), tomatoes and herbs are expected to be growing under protective glass roofing – on a city rooftop, some 7,000 square meters of it, an area as big as a soccer field. And in the building underneath, say the three 30-something Berliners behind the ambitious project, there will also be an aquaponic fish farm.
"The beauty of our plan is it's self-sufficient. Only fish food has to be brought in from the outside," says Nicolas Leschke, one of the three entrepreneurs. Water containing excretions from fish bred in large tubs will fertilize the produce, leaving clean water to flow through the closed water circuit back to the fish.
"Our intention is for this to be the biggest roof farm in the world," Leschke adds. He and his partners are part of a small but growing international urban farming movement. "It's ridiculous to continue growing produce only in the countryside that then has to be trucked to cities," says project partner Christian Echternacht.
"All the resources we need are available through renewable energy and rainwater collection," says third partner Karoline von Böckel, who is responsible for ensuring the project's optimum sustainability. Farm production will be sold on site and in stores in the immediate vicinity, she says.
In cooperation with the Berlin Institute of Technology, the three young Berliners are presently fine tuning their feasibility study. The project will cost 5 million euros, and investors are being sought. Even if they don't find any, says Leschke, "nobody's going to stop us. 2012 is the International Year of Sustainable Energy For All and there will be plenty of support programs for pioneers like us."
Read the full original article in German by Julia Becker
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