For those who will be fortunate enough to reside in a brand-new community being erected in a suburb of Amsterdam, the future of sustainable suburban communities looks bright. Residents may find that their dining room is adjacent to an indoor vegetable garden, while just outside the window rests a seasonal garden. They will also find that all the food for this community is being grown just down the road in vertical farms, using the latest inventions of the gardening industry.
This neighborhood isn’t part of some sci-fi fiction, it has a name; the first ever ReGen Village. Engineers have designed this community to be entirely self-sufficient and sustainable. The village will grow food for residents, produce all the energy requirements for the village, and dispose of all waste on site in a closed loop community.
All conventional household waste products that can be composted will be used to provide food for livestock as well as soldier flies. The flies will then be used to feed fish, while fish waste is used to provide fertilizer for an on-site aquaculture system that grows fruits and vegetables for the village residents. Seasonal outdoor gardens will receive fertilizer from the waste produced by livestock.
Implementing the most innovative technologies for producing food—a combination of high yield vertical farms, food forests, aquaponics, aeroponics, and permaculture—this village will produce several times the food of a traditional land farm of the same dimensions, with far fewer natural resources. For example, aquaponics can produce 10 times as much food as would be grown on the same acreage of land, while simultaneously reducing water consumption by 90%.
“We anticipate literally tonnes of abundant organic food every year—from vegetables, fruit, nuts, legumes, fish, eggs, chicken, small animal dairy and protein—that can continually grow and yield in the vertical garden systems all year long.” says James Ehrlich, CEO of ReGen Villages.
In addition to producing its own food and disposing of waste, the village will produce all its own energy needs. This will be done using a combination of wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass.
“We’re looking at some very interesting technologies for small-footprint biomass that can take surrounding farm waste and turn that into a consistent energy source in a way that can power these communities in northern Europe even in the dead of winter,” Ehrlich says.
Incorporating smart grid technologies, power will be distributed efficiently. All household waste not able to be composted will be disposed of in a biogas plant which will convert the waste into water and/or power. Water storage systems will collect and contain both rainwater and gray water, which it will distribute to the aquaponic systems and seasonal gardens of those living in the village.
This ReGen community will be the first in a network of similar villages the company has plans to build all over the world.
“We’re really looking at a global scale,” he says. “We are redefining residential real-estate development by creating these regenerative neighborhoods, looking at first these greenfield pieces of farmland where we can produce more organic food, more clean water, more clean energy, and mitigate more waste than if we just left that land to grow organic food or do permaculture there.”
Plans for the first 100-home sustainable community broke ground this past summer and looks to be completed sometime in 2017. This initial village will be set outside the town of Almere, roughly 20 minutes from Amsterdam by train. After this community, the company has short term plans for projects in Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Norway, and long term plans to break ground in the Middle East.
The ReGen community in Almere will produce roughly half of the food required for the residents of the village; some things will not be grown, such as coffee and bananas for example. It will however produce enough energy to feed back into the grid locally. In future locations, the company is confident that the villages will be completely self-sufficient.