Biofilta's urban farmer Marc Noyce in his favourite place, the garden.
Biofilta's urban farmer Marc Noyce in his favourite place, the garden.

The urban village farm an idea for retirement villages

THE founders of Biofilta, which is behind the transformation of a Melbourne Docklands carpark roof into a working farm, believe its system can be used in retirement villages.

"Retirement villages could become mini urban farms providing food not only for themselves, but to grow food for their wider community, with very little maintenance and very little impact," Biofilta co-founder Marc Noyce said.

"Seniors are losing access to space to grow food.

"They most likely grew food on a property that had a large vegie garden down the back and derived a lot of their nutritional value from their land using local inputs such as chicken manure."

Densification of the Australian suburbs has reduced the ability of seniors to grow their own food.

The system Biofilta has developed is aimed at getting people back to growing their food, but in an urban environment.

The wicking or capillary, sealed system, accepts compost and nutrients.

"It's easy to use, sealed, water efficient and ultra-low maintenance so people can put these growing systems into urban areas," Mr Noyce said.

Using purchased or self-made compost from clippings and food scraps, Biofilta's system works on the principle of watering from the bottom up.

"It keeps the water optimally up to the plant's requirements throughout the day for weeks at a time." Mr Noyce said.

"We're exploiting the thing that nature worked out millions of year ago."

The FoodCube is best suited to installation on rooftops with load-bearing capacity and on the ground, perhaps in a corner of a retirement village carpark or a community garden.

The raised garden bed is made in Australia from recycled material.

"It's like a no dig garden because it is fully sealed; there is no wastage of water," he said.

"We can turn urban areas into urban farms and reconnect people to sustainability.

"There is a huge amount of experience sitting there, going to waste.

"I think that is something we can really harness if retirement villages were keen to participate."

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