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Rooftop farming at Belvedere College

Belvedere College’s innovative new Urban Farm project which was created this year as a horticulture and school based project consisting of an indoor GROWlab greenhouse and a rooftop growing area, is going from strength to strength. The urban farm offers students the opportunity to grow crops, farm fish and cultivate fungi while also learning about plant life cycles, green technology, and sustainable farming practices under the supervision of teacher Simon O’Donnell, who is the project co-ordinator.

Creating the urban farm involved the conversion of the glass roofed science laboratory at the school into the specialised ‘Grow Lab’ greenhouse complete with aquaponics and vertical hydroponics that facilitates the growth of a variety of nutrient rich produce in an urban environment including potatoes, oyster mushrooms, wheatgrass, rainbow trout and salad crops. The Grow Lab which is powered by a solar panel and wind turbine also incorporates other advanced technologies such as LED grow lights and open source microprocessors that facilitate both physical and online monitoring of the environmental systems installed. The project offers the dual benefit of an innovative system of teaching sustainability in the city, and a year-round space which has capacity for a wide range of growing projects.

Belvedere Urban Farm is a combined community effort to which students, staff and local businesses have contributed their time and expertise.  The project was developed with the assistance of Andrew Douglas, founder and project manager of www.urbanfarm.ie who advises on all aspects of the development including growing infrastructure, curriculum integration, production and use of produce. The produce of the farm has been sampled by staff, students and parents of the college, while prominent restaurants including ‘The Boxty House’ have purchased some of the microgreen products. A Micro-farming workshop was held at Belvedere as part of the recent Bloom Fringe festival and the Urban Farm was also featured in ‘The Irish Times‘.

The idea of urban farming is growing in popularity in Dublin with an increasing number of underutilised city spaces being put to use for urban farms which are fast becoming a fertile ground for food production while also making for a greater sense of community and building a greener city.

For further details on the project see Belvedere Urban Farm blog.