On a 26-story building’s rooftop, racks of different varieties of lettuce thrive on nutrient-rich water. The farm at the roof deck of the Robinsons Cyberscape Alpha overlooks the skyline of Ortigas Center. It is a product of the property developer’s partnership with the retail brand FarmTop, which introduces hydroponic farming in the metro.
Hydroponic farming is a technique that grows plants in water, not soil. The method has been gaining momentum because it is supposed to be more environmentally friendly. This technique uses less water, can be done in pockets of sprawling urban spaces, and brings food closer to densely populated cities.
Forty-year-old Elena Ebron mans the sky farm with two other urban farmers trained by FarmTop. Ebron hails from Quezon province, known for its coconut produce. She works from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. six days a week and gets paid the minimum wage in the agriculture sector.
Their farming process at the roof deck takes a little over a month from planting to harvest. Seedlings of greens stay in pods of rock wool or coconut husks for 15 days. After that, they are transferred to racks, where they stay for another 30 days before harvest. The setup could produce a ton of leafy greens per month.
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