Rabbits, donkeys and aquaponics: Urban Farm launched at VDNKh

Rabbits, donkeys and aquaponics: Urban Farm launched at VDNKh
The farm offers an opportunity to study innovative areas of agriculture and carry out experiments in biology and soil science.

The opening of the second phase of the Urban Farm was celebrated at VDNKh. The new facilities will extend existing infrastructure and, accordingly, will offer more opportunities to those who are only starting out as farmers. There are spacious workshops to teach children various craft skills and a lab to carry out a wide range of experiments in biology, natural history and soil science. Classes to be given in the greenhouse will be dedicated to soil science, plants and technologies, floral art and exotics.  

The project also aims to promote the innovative high-technology farming method called aquaponics, which combines fish and shellfish farming known as aquaculture and hydroponics – growing plants without soil.

The farm will be a year-round cultural and educational site available to anyone interested in farming and natural history.

The Urban Farm is a unique cultural and educational farming project, allowing children and adults to feed animals and learn how to look after them under the supervision of experienced zoologists. Botanists and agronomists can share a lot of interesting facts about plants and help plant them correctly.

The farm opened in August of 2015. It is located close to the historical Rabbit Breeding Pavilion No. 44 in the area adjacent to Pond No. 5, a 10-minute walk from Botanichesky Sad metro station. Enclosures with animals, workshops and outdoor sites, which are used to hold various events, are surrounded by old trees growing on the banks of the pond and the Kamenka River. This is a place where anyone can watch cows, sheep, goats, donkeys and fowl all year round and even give animals a pat. 

Where does food in the shops come from?

In the 21st century, all sorts of gadgets and the internet keep the younger generation increasingly less involved in what is happening in real life. Studies show that over 80 percent of children living in the city do not understand where food sold at supermarkets comes from. The Urban Farm aims to raise young Muscovites’ awareness of farming.

Within a year of the launch of the project, children have planted and grown over 100 varieties of vegetables, gathered about 3,000 eggs and milked over 1,000 litres of goat milk. Trips, workshops and other educational programmes helped about 60,000 children to master basic skills that are needed to look after farm animals. Little guests helped VDNKh procure about 30 tonnes of feed.

Professors and researchers holding a PhD from leading universities, including Timiryazev Agriculture University, the MGIMO Ecology Faculty and the MSU Soil Science Faculty, are involved in the project. The development of all educational programmes is led by scientists and specialists from various fields, including architecture, landscape design and journalism.

In autumn, the farm will launch an extracurricular and preschool educational programme, which is in the trial stage now.  

The complex covers an area of about three hectares. The design of the farm allows low-mobility people to move about it. There are also special adaptation programmes for children with disabilities.

Foreign Experience

Urban farms have also proved a success in Germany, Denmark and the United States. Lessons on urban farms are sometimes even included in preschool and extracurricular educational programmes.

Given below are several examples of urban farms in New York.

Brooklyn Grange

Located on the rooftop of an abandoned industrial facility, a profit-making urban farm covers an area of about 4,000 square metres. Forty varieties of herbs and vegetables are being grown on the farm.

Ben Flanner, president and head farmer, points to two main advantages of a rooftop farm: plenty of sunlight and absence of plant pests. 

Added Value

This is a Brooklyn-based non-profit farm, which offers various educational programmes to teenagers.

Added Value was New York’s first urban farm and has contributed a lot to transforming waste grounds into urban gardens. The farm supplies many Brooklyn residents with healthy and reasonably priced food products. The farm’s three slogans are “Growing food only,” “Involving youth” and “Farm-based education.”

Tenth Acre Farms

Tenth Acre Farms started out as a small courtyard. Later, in 2009, three farmers bought an abandoned basketball court at Greenpoint to extend their property. The farm’s key objective is to provide New Yorkers with fresh products.

Farm produce does not contain harmful chemicals thanks to organic growing methods. The farm has elevated vegetable patches to extend the season for another three or four weeks because it takes less time in the spring to heat up and longer to cool down in the winter.

Battery Urban Farm

This farm is located at Battery Historical Park and covers about 4,000 square metres. Farmers use organic techniques to grow about 80 varieties of vegetables, fruit, flowers, cereals and plants.

The farm’s main objective is to inspire and train students, farmers and all who are interested in farming. Battery Urban Farm promotes healthy eating and is working to develop a sense of community in downtown Manhattan.

New York plans to develop urban farming. Last year, BrightFarms Company, which is engaged in establishing greenhouses next to supermarkets to make the supply chain shorter, announced its decision to build a huge hydroponics greenhouse on the rooftop of a former warehouse. The company says the greenhouse will yield about 500,000 kilograms of farm produce a year.