Self-Sustaining Islands, the Future of Farming?

Self-Sustaining Islands, the Future of Farming?

Charlie Stephens

The future of oceanic farming is being shaped by a group of Spanish designers. Smart Floating Farms is a floating island of fish farms, hydroponic gardens and solar panels – all of which will help future farmers bypass the inefficiencies of traditional agriculture.

Created by Barcelona design firm Forward Thinking Architecture, Smart Floating Farms (SFF) are modular, self-regulating, and multi-dimensional ocean barges. The 656 x 1,150 ft. rectangular plots provide 2.2 million square feet of farming space, and can be linked or separated according to what is needed.


The main bottom is made up of a fish farm and slaughterhouse, which are maintained by manual labor and an encompassing wave protector. The bottom floor also holds the main storage facility and desalination plant for the hydroponic farm on the story above.

Since hydroponically grown food doesn’t need soil, the floating farm makes practical sense. Production management becomes simplified as well – data is collected from the aeroponic walls and processed through an IoT system that regulates growing conditions such as climate, and eliminates the need for harmful pesticides.


The result is a self-sustaining cycle where waste from the second floor can be used as food for the first, and vice versa. Energy for the farm is sourced from the third story, where high-energy photovoltaic panels and skylights would be located.


Like the designers behind Smart Floating Farms, other entrepreneurs are venturing into unchartered waters. Blueseed is a vision for an ocean-based community of entrepreneurs who live together on an anchored ship, working and creating alongside one another in a collaborative system. While SFF could be floated offshore to any country around the world, Blueseed offers working permits for people regardless of their home citizenship.

We are also seeing new uses of shipping containers, both as living spaces in cities and also as urban farms on college campuses. Traditionally, ships have needed to be compact and efficient to get from place to place, and this maritime model of living and producing appears to be transversing industrial boundaries.

While SFF is not a ship in the exact sense, the idea is still the same – the way we work is being affected by our environmental resources. As we try to bring food production to underserved areas and seek space for making this possible, methods of production are literally changing form.

The vast expanses of rural farms are being supplanted by the vertical farming, and hydroponics are constantly being improved and adapted around the world in place of soil-dependent techniques. Now, food can be brought from farm to table in just four hours, and unused urban spaces are being transformed into agricultural powerhouses.

Smart Floating Farms is yet another one of these innovative models for producing and delivering fresh, abundant food to areas in need around the globe.

Smart Floating Farms

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