Self Paced 20-hour course to help you understand more about farming and gardening vertically
Explore ways of growing plants in small spaces for amenity or as a crop.
Vertical farming is a logical and effective way of growing vegetables, fruits and herbs in urban areas not only for personal needs, but also as a small commercial farm.
This course has been developed as a starting point for:
- Home Gardeners seeking to grow their own food
- Urban Farming start ups seeking to optimise the production from limited space
- Interior and exterior landscapers, seeking to create greener, healthier spaces in residential, commercial and public places.
It is possible with a little know how and planning, to create a profitable urban farm. Walls of plants can be used to transform courtyards, building interiors and stark urban landscapes; improving air quality, reducing temperature extremes and enhancing human wellbeing in many other ways.
Our 20 hour courses are self paced and will help you understand a topic
in a short amount of time. You can work through the course when you
like- test yourself with mini-tests along the way. There are extra case
studies or research you can undertake if you would really like to get
into the topic. Once you have completed the lessons and self assessment
tasks, there is a final exam undertaken online- you can then download
your personalised certificate.
LESSON 1 NATURE AND SCOPE OF VERTICAL GROWING
Nature of vertical growing
Scope of vertical growing
The uniqueness of vertical gardening
Where to grow
How to grow
Benefits of vertical gardening
Reasons to create a green wall
Health problems of biophobic design
Review what you have been learning
LESSON 2 BUILDING THE GREEN WALL
The living wall
Design and construction of green walls
Loose media/substrate systems
Fixed media systems
Other design considerations
Green wall design
LESSON 3 GREEN FACADES
The green façade
Options for creating green facades
Some techniques in detail
Growing plants on trellis
Green facade preparation
More on epiphytes
Succulents in green walls
LESSON 4 VERTICAL FOOD PRODUCTION
Making use of vertical crop growing
Alternative layouts for vertical NFT systems
NFT system choices
Gravel and loose culture
Growing in protective structures
Relative humidity and vapour pressure deficit
CO2 and O2
Control of the environment
Outdoor vertical food gardens
Growing cucurbits in vertical systems
LESSON 5 AUTOMATION
The need for automation
Irrigation and fertiliser
Automated irrigation systems for green walls
Fertigation of green walls
Monitoring vertical growing systems
Optimum air quality
Cation exchange capacity
Measuring ph levels
Automated irrigation of hydroponic green walls
Ph tests for hydroponics
Automatic ec and ph testing and control
LESSON 6 MAINTENANCE
The range of maintenance tasks
Maintenance of plants
The nature of plants
Pruning and rejuvenating plants
Maintaining plants in containers
Maintenance of hanging baskets
Problems with containers
Maintenance of hard landscape components
Maintaining plant health
Symptoms and diagnosis
How to conduct an inspection
Symptoms of nutrient deficiency
Pests and diseases problems
Occupational health and safety
Duty of care
Identifying hazards and risk
Example of a risk assessment procedure
Work place Safety with tools and equipment
General safety rules
Maintaining vertical gardens and farms
Maintenance issues when retrofitting green walls
Avoiding problem materials which increase maintenance
LESSON 7 PLANT SELECTION
Plants for green walls
Plants for green facades
Climbers to grow on trellis
Plants for hanging baskets
Plants for window boxes
Plants for hedging
Plants for vertical farms
Growing strawberries in vertical farms
Organic of cultivation of strawberries in green wall containers
DIFFERENT REASONS TO GROW VERTICALLY
There are two broad reasons to grow plants:
1. Amenity - to make a place better for the people who exist in that place. A big part of this might be described another way: as people friendliness (ie. biophilia)
2. Production - to grow food crops or something else that can be harvested. Another way of saying this could be "farming".
Whilst biophilia is an inherent tendency, it has to be noted that not everyone is an advocate of biophilia, and some are biophobic. Biophobia is an aversion to nature which arises from fears e.g. fear of snakes or spiders. Most of us have some fears associated with nature and these are quite normal. These fears evolved in humans as a means of survival. Ancient man spent his time among nature and learnt to understand and work with the natural environment. We needed to avoid poisonous plants, predators and dangerous places. Through fear, we connected with nature and maintained a close relationship with the environment. In people who are biophobic, this fear remains but it has become exaggerated. It is possibly as a result of mankind losing that connection with nature.
For some people who are biophobic they may only have a moderate dislike of nature or some aspects of it - such as feeling uncomfortable in natural settings. For others the fear may be more pronounced leading to avoidance of natural settings altogether. These fears can be traced back to things our ancestors were fearful of like open spaces, heights, or deep water. People who are biophobic may be this way because as a civilisation we have been distancing ourselves from nature for too long, and especially over the past couple of centuries when many have embraced technology. In fact, it can be argued that technology has displaced nature. Many people spend very little of their lives interacting with nature and even take measures to avoid it e.g. spending most of their time in the shelter of housing and offices or in other enclosed environments like cars and trains. The only encounters some people have with nature are through television and social media.
Those who are fearful of natural environments learn to avoid these situations but when the feelings are intense it can cause them anxiety. Those who favour biophilic design argue that by incorporating natural patterns and systems into design we can help to overcome such anxieties and help people to reunite with nature. Conservationists would argue that the disconnection from nature we have developed in recent years has led to a loss of regard for natural habitats and species which inhabit them. They see our dissociation from nature as a cause of habitat destruction.
Building and landscape designs which have lost touch with nature and our need to affiliate with it may be referred to as 'biophobic designs'. By comparison to biophilic designs they have a lack of biodiversity, often have problems with pollution, and encourage heat island effects. The challenge for biophilic designers is to incorporate the desirable features of natural environments into landscapes and architecture whilst moderating those that can cause fear or anxiety. Biophilic design has to re-establish lost connections with nature and avoid the mechanistic designs of some biophobic designs. Whilst it could be argued that technology is at odds with biophilia, this isn't necessarily true. In fact, it has been suggested that technology can be viewed as an extension of biophilia and that with careful thought the two can work together. After all, technology can be used to enhance our understanding of nature. So, biophilic design can draw them together in making places that are better suited to us as humans in light of our ancestry and health needs.
HEALTH PROBLEMS OF BIOPHILIC DESIGN
Key health problems associated with biophobic design include:
Urban Heat Island Effect
This is where an urban area is notably warmer than the surrounding areas. In particular, built surfaces like roads, pavements and the roofs and walls of buildings are considerably warmer than the air temperature. The differences in temperature are particularly pronounced on hot summer days when even the air temperature can be much warmer after sunset in the built environment of cities compared to nearby rural locations.
During these times the demand for power is increased as residents seek to cool their homes with air conditioning systems and fans. This results in increased emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants. Chief among these pollutants are sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury and particulate matter. Higher ground temperatures also result in the formation of higher amounts of ozone at ground level.
All these factors can have a cumulative effect on human health. Not only do people in these environments feel more uncomfortable, but other complications include breathing difficulties, heat stroke, exhaustion and an increase in heat-related deaths especially amongst the elderly, young children and people with pre-existing health problems. Deaths can increase quite noticeably when there is a sudden and marked increase in temperature. The unique temperature zone associated with heat islands also serves to prolong heat waves and exacerbate problems.
Psychological and Physiological Stress
There is increasing evidence that urban environments which are devoid of nature, or elements of it, are less conducive to recovery from stress related problems. Findings from the field of environmental psychology also suggest that some types of environment i.e. biophilic ones, can help us to cope with stress better. Since people always use coping strategies to deal with stress biophobic environments may hinder our coping resources and thereby exacerbate the negative impact of stress upon us. Conversely, biophilic environments may improve our ability to cope.
Breakdown of Ecosystems
In built environments which are detached from nature, there is often a lack of biodiversity and a breakdown of ecosystems. Ecosystems rely on interactions and relationships between different organisms and once established they are self-sustaining. An ecosystem is greater than the sum of the parts because if certain parts are missing the ecosystem quickly falls apart.
When you look at biophilic designs, ones which work well are those where people are seen as organisms in an ecosystem rather than as being separate to it. For the benefit of people's health good design creates human habitats in which people can function effectively and feel connected with nature rather than disconnected from it.
Degradation of built environments has long been associated with mental and physical ill health. All urban environments which have been poorly planned and are densely populated are at risk of health problems associated with degradation. Overcrowding and noise pollution contribute to psychological distress. Toxins and air pollution can contribute to behavioural problems such as hyperactivity and aggression. A lack of sunlight may influence depression. A lack of green spaces can be implicated in mental health problems and poorer outcomes for child development.