Over the last decade, there has been an unprecedented surge in demand for locally produced foods—and in large cities, the appetite is especially high. In response to the local food craze, many city residents have advocated for urban farming as a way to provide affordable, pesticide-free produce, cultivated with minimal environmental impact, to residents of various socio-economic levels. However, in cities with limited open land, urban farmers have had to turn to innovative solutions to secure spaces for agriculture.
Since big cities lack the open acres required for large-scale agricultural production, urban farmers have turned their heads upwards to another widely available resource distinctive of cities: rooftops. Successful projects like New York's Brooklyn Grange and Tokyo's City Farm have transformed unused rooftops into visionary production sites that feed local communities high quality produce and make cities a little greener from above.
While these rooftop farms are often found on private warehouses and industrial buildings, a new farming project in Japan utilizes the tops of public transit stations to give passengers a moment to work their green thumbs while waiting for the next train. A collaboration between the East Japan Railway Company and entertainment company Ekipara, the Soradofarm occupies the roofs of five different stations around Tokyo, transforming these otherwise idle spaces into productive sites that benefit the health and nutrition of commuters and give people a place to garden-on-the-go.
Three-square-meter plots of the Soradofarm can be rented to anyone, regardless of experience, allowing the public to hone their farming skills, learn more about the production of food, reduce the stress of traveling, and make better use of their time waiting for transfer. When not being used by gardeners, the plots become a peaceful place to relax during a busy commute. Soradofarm gardeners are supplied with essential tools, but the price is not cheap—a yearly fee of $980 restricts the public accessibility of the project.
For those who can afford the steep price, Soradofarm is more than just a place to grow produce. The placement of the project's arable patches around urban cores is an acknowledgment of the myriad of health benefits that urban farms can bring, especially to the casual farmer. The decentralized,, easily accessible organization of Soradofarm echos a do-it-yourself sensibility that encourages individuals to have a greater role in their health and wellbeing.