March 26, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Put a Farm on It!

Urban farming is the kudzu of local food. First we had community gardens and backyard tomatoes. Then the guerrilla gardeners came, clandestinely planting food in unused lots or in the corners of public parks. The unused city rooftops became commercial success stories, planted with acres of fresh lettuces, tomatoes, and peppers. But now that urban farming has reached train station roofs, we can safely assume that any spare surface could be growing food in the near future.

One of Japan's Soradofarms.

One of Japan’s Soradofarms.

A recent article in Architizer reveals that Japan is marketing urban farm plots to the commuter set. James Bartolacci writes,

“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.”

The plots even have experienced gardeners on staff to help new farmers keep their greens growing. Whether you’re a commuter who takes time to water and weed before and after work or someone who lives nearby and is looking to rent a plot of land, the plots are open to anyone who can afford the membership fee. A plot costs about $980 (JPY 100,440) a year with tools and fertilizer included. If no one’s coined the term “commuter farm” yet I sense a trend coming our way.

For an up-close look, here’s a TokyoMXNews report about the farms. (No English available for the non-Japanese speakers among us.)

-Tove K. Danovich