The vison of Human Habitat, a Danish design and build studio is to be actively engaged in rebuilding a decentralised food system and creating ecologically vital and socially vibrant communities. The founders of Human Habitat, Mikkel Kjær and Ronnie Markussen had a vision of developing and building a small-scale vertical farm hub, which was also telling a story. More than a tangible solution providing access to fresh produce within large urban environments, it moreover serves as an educational tool and holds the potential to create awareness of the origins of our food. A farm hub that was as effective, yet more beautiful than other vertical farms, and provided a significant contribution to the development of the circular economy by being the world’s first vertical farm and food hub, 100 % designed for disassembly. This is how the concept of the Impact Farm was born.
Implementing the Impact Farm concept in New York
The Human Habitat approach to design resulted in a research stay in New York City with the purpose of fully understanding the potential benefits and impact of growing food in the city, and the challenges that urban growers are facing.
And New York might also be just the ideal place to manifest a new and visionary concept in the intersection of design, architecture and urban agriculture. Besides from the fact that New York is one of the most iconic cities in the world, it is in the process of transforming into a large scale living lab of real tangible solutions in the area of climate adaptation.
Human Habitat first connected with the founder of Harlem Grown, Tony Hillery in the Autumn af 2014. Hillery is also the executive director of Harlem Grown, a local non-profit in Harlem, using urban farming as a tool for both neighbourhood and human transformation. The meeting with Tony Hillery turned out to be a pivotal moment for the development of the Impact Farm concept. Witnessing urban farming being used as a powerful tool for community building in Harlem inspired the design process of Human Habitat and the development of the Impact Farm concept. The co-creation turned in to a strong and visionary partnership with the collective aim of inspiring others to initiate projects based on the same model across the US and beyond.
After returning to Copenhagen and building the first prototype of the Impact Farm in Copenhagen. Human Habitat and Harlem Grown agreed to move forward and identify a path towards the construction of a Harlem Grown Impact Farm. This was possible due to generous support from Juice Generation. Human Habitat prefabricated the building components in Copenhagen, packed the container and shipped it across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City. The Juice Generation Impact Farm in Harlem was constructed in the autumn of 2018 and so far more than 1100 lbs. of greens has been harvested and distributed to the local residents. Harlem Grown shares the fresh produce with the local community every Saturday on 127th street.
Finding the right partners for expansion through Access Cities
CEO of Human Habitat Mikkel Kjær sees a real potential for the Impact Farm concept in New York City.
We intend to continue and deepen our partnership with Harlem Grown. At the same time, we have our eyes set on the other boroughs and areas of the city where our work can have real impact. We are determined to play a role in building a fair, transparent and resilient food system from the ground up, a food system that works for all of us
Human Habitat will work with the Access Cities program to pursue their wish to expand their activities in the city. Danish Cleantech Hub, who is the New York lead on the Access Cities program, will assist Human Habitat with finding U.S. partners that can help scale the company.
Access Cities is an international, public-private program, which aims to strengthen sustainable urban development in five progressive cities – New York, Singapore, Munich and the Danish cities of Copenhagen and Aarhus. The project connects stakeholders working with sustainable urban development in the pursuit of game-changing solutions to common issues confronting cities.
For more information on the Human Habitat case or how Access Cities can help your company do business in New York, please contact Danish Cleantech Hub