Window farm: hydroponic curtain of food

At Tokyo’s Design Touch, I came across Britta Riley’s WindowFarm. It’s a vertical hydroponic system for growing vegetables in apartment windows. I like the idea that city people can grow their own food, that vertical urban space can be better used, and the premise of R&D-I-Y (do it yourself R&D), where customers use web “crowdsourcing” to contribute new ideas about the product.

WindowFarm has appeared at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Venice Biennial, and even Martha Stewart’s TV show. The installation I saw really showed off how space-efficient the system is. The parts I am less keen on include the hydroponic system and the pump. The idea of using chemicals and electricity, to me, seems contrary to simplicity and nature. However, I know that many people are strong believers in hydroponic farming.

What do you think? Would you install this system in your home? Could it be done with soil instead of hydroponics? What do you think of creating an online community to support micro-urban farming?

WindowFarm also reminds me of one of the first images from Tokyo Green Space: the “pet bottle” (Japan’s name for disposable beverage containers) supporting a plant in Metro station men’s room. That installation was entirely no-tech, and yet both rely on this ubiquitous and wasteful bottle that we can’t seem to live without.


  1. I think innovations made to encourage farming in small spaces are great, though I agree that I would prefer the use of soil to hydroponics. I try to make a point of consuming as much organic, locally grown produce as possible, and I’m interested in looking into any and all means to farm for myself in the limited space I have. An online community to support such efforts would be fantastic. I also love that this particular piece is being shown around the world. With luck, it might encourage more people to think about employing similar small-scale practices to grow food.

  2. I like the idea of growing in windows and even PET bottles, although I wonder what leaches from the plastic. I am not a fan of hydroponics, I’m afraid. However, if it could be hooked up to an aquaponic system – a fish aquarium to filter the water and offer up some ‘fertilizer’ before recycling – I’d be more supportive. A pump of some kind would be required then, too, but perhaps it could be solar or use some other system to keep the fluid running.

    A home compost system (vermiculture, perhaps?) might make soil growing more feasible and reduce (or even eliminate) the need for chemical or purchased fertilizers, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s