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Six of the Strangest Places To Grow Hydroponics

The first colonies on Mars will rely on hydroponics for food. The first colonies on Mars will rely on hydroponics for food.

Growing plants without soil has a long list of benefits. Its greatest? The power to cultivate greenery in locations that would otherwise be unsuitable. This type of innovation is not without trailblazers and some just push the envelope. Hats off to these folks for being original; they are using hydroponics in the six strangest places we've seen yet.

1. On an Amish farm, without public power

The Amish have managed to preserve a strong and proud tradition of homestyle farming in the face of modern gadgets and mass agriculture. Not only do they reject most technology, they've renounced the public power grid - two things essential to a hydroponic system.

But for some Amish families, land is scarce or not fertile enough to produce sufficient amounts of food for an entire household. That's why progressive Amish communities across the US have given hydroponics their own spin, using sunlight, manual controls, pneumatics and natural gas powered generators and heaters to create Amish-friendly, non-electric greenhouses where other technologies fear to tread.

2. In a mine in Kansas

Robert Vicino thinks the best place to be when the world ends is 130 feet below the ground in an unused Kansas mine. He's so convinced, in fact, that he's bought 2 million square feet of underground real estate and is currently transforming it into an RV park for like-minded doomsday campers.

The limestone mine is designed to withstand a nuclear blast from five miles away and is gated by two-foot thick steel doors. If you'd like to secure your place, it will cost you $25,000 up front and then $1,500 per year for food rations that Vicino will provide himself. How's he going to do it? With an extensive hydroponic garden hidden deep within the mine, of course.

3. On top of a city bus in Spain

In Girona, Spain, gardens aren't limited to standstill spaces. Landscape artist Marc Grañén was tired of the constant stream of dirty air from the city's clogged traffic ways and decided to do something about it.

His solution? Outfit the top of city buses with hydroponic grow mats capable of sustaining succulents, mosses, and ornamental grasses. When the air conditioning on the bus condensates, the moisture is funneled into the grow mats as a method of irrigation. In turn, the plants give off much needed oxygen to combat the outpour of carbon dioxide from traffic.

4. In an underground bank vault in Japan

Japan imports almost all of its food from foreign countries as a result of inadequate farmland and contaminated soils. Agricultural workers in Japan haven't let such statistics get the better of them however.

In the middle of downtown Tokyo's business district, Pasona O2 has taken hydroponic gardening to a new level. The building is overflowing with hydroponically grown fruits and vegetables inside conference rooms, hallways, stairwells, and even under benches. It all started when the company decided to convert an empty bank vault in the second level basement of their headquarters into a hydroponic paradise, replete with an entire rice paddy. The bounty of the vault's harvest is used to feed the workers in their own cafeteria.

5. In an abandoned church in England

In 2006, installation artist John Newling planted 32 Pinot Noir grape vines along the central aisle of an abandoned church in Chatham, England. The vines were sustained by a hydroponic growing system and grew onto a 15-meter steel archway.

The plants were grown for a year and monitored by two cameras that streamed every step of the project to the internet. At the end of the growing year, the grapes were harvested and made into wine, some of which was served at a near-by church's Easter Sunday service.

6. On Mars

Speculation has it that humans will be on Mars by the mid-2030s. The only thing about the mission is that it will most likely be one-way. If that thought isn't terrifying enough, the small group of astronauts that will make the seminal mission will have to live together in small domed houses sealed off from the inhospitable climate of Mars.

Since it would be impossible to bring along enough food to last a lifetime, the astronauts will have to grow their own. NASA is in the process of developing the best hydroponic system possible for Mars life, one that will most likely rely on aeroponics.

This isn't the first time we've seen hydroponics stretch the limit. Check out more extreme hydroponic gardens in Going to Extremes: Hydroponics for Every Location.

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NASA is already using hydroponics to grow food in outer space.
Last modified on Friday, 18 October 2013 22:59

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