FAO unveils rooftop farm at Rome headquarters
©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti 17 November 2021, Rome – FAO has installed a prototype rooftop farm at its Rome headquarters to highlight how innovative technology can help increase access to healthy diets from sustainable agri-food systems.
Housed entirely in mobile, triangle-shaped modules made of corrosion-retarding steel, the farm will be equipped with an intelligent automated system that ensures crops get what they need to thrive and sensors that monitor nutrients, pathogens, atmospheric pollution, moisture and climate.
The farm will serve as a prototype that can be replicated and scaled up to help alleviate food shortages in areas where agricultural land and soil is limited, such as mountains and urban areas.
“FAO’s rooftop farm highlights the potential of technology and of collaboration with innovative partners, including the private sector, to strengthen the resilience of food systems, while also contributing to greener, healthier mountains and cities,” said Mette Wilkie, Director, FAO Forestry Division,
The rooftop farm will feature a wide range of plants including neglected species and crops at risk of extinction. These include examples of crops cultivated under the Slow Food Presidia label, which helps safeguard threatened local plant varieties.
Also growing in the farm will be examples of mountain plants recognized by the Mountain Partnership Products Initiative, a labelling scheme for ethical, fair and organic mountain products.
“Conserving agricultural biodiversity is vital for food security, as it increases our chances of being able to cultivate crop species that can cope with climate change and other stressors,” said Giorgio Grussu, Coordinator of the Italian-funded Mountain Partnership Products initiative.
“In fragile mountain ecosystems especially, where mountain people are highly vulnerable to food insecurity, applying the technology of FAO’s rooftop farm could help increase agricultural production, protect mountain agrobiodiversity and improve mountain economies and livelihoods.”
The rooftop farm is sponsored by the Italian organic retailer NaturaSì and designed by the Italian urban garden design company Ecobubble. Data generated by the farm’s sensors will be monitored and analysed by Sapienza University’s Botanical Garden of Rome.
FAO will provide guided tours of the farm when COVID-19 restrictions allow.