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Switzerland: Vegetables and fish fresh from the roof

In almost all towns of the world the so-called 'Urban farms' are becoming more important, as published by the Swiss website swissinfo.ch. Also in Switzerland they have prospects, as shown during a visit to pioneer company UF001 LokDepot in Basle. The company is established on the roof of a marshalling station. Three young men plant plants and feed fish. In a hothouse of 250m2 they work as young entrepreneurs in the area of Urban Agriculture. After a more than one year phase of testing and organizing money, UF001 LokDepot started its production last year with a capital of 1.2 million Swiss Francs.

The small team can harvest the fruit as well as fish and special vegetables, lettuce varieties and herbs, which are then supplied to five restaurants in the neighbourhood, by bicycle. The company is an Aquaponic fish farm. The droppings of the tilapia fish fertilize the vegetables and these in turn clean the water of the four cultivation basins at the same time - a closed cycle, which is completed in about one to two hours.  
The Aquaponic Farm is part of UrbanFarmers, a spin-off of the 'Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften' (ZHAW) in Wädenswil. The fish basins and the hothouse where the vegetables are grown not in soil but on floating polystyrene foam islands, are connected by a large number of tubes in which dirty and clean water are pumped back and forth. The pumps are controlled by computer controlled censors, which are also responsible for the optimum use of energy, optimum lighting and optimum ventilation.
In Basel the clients of UrbanFarmers are very satisfied. "The products are slightly more expensive, but that is well worth it, because they are top products. The corn salad for instance is much better than that from the supermarket," Markus Himpel, chef at the close by restaurant Schmatz says. He is happy because the fresh products used in his kitchen, grow just around the corner.  


Publication date: 4/19/2013


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