sustainable cities through
participatory urban farms
What Are The Challenges of
Our Food System?
Growing Urban Population
80% of all food will be consumed
in cities by 2050
There is not enough land or water for our current food production systems to meet the growing demand of urban populations. And Covid-19 has demonstrated the vulnerability of global supply chains, and emphasised the need to be locally resilient.
Urban Health and Wellbeing
35% of European children
are overweight and rising
The developed world is facing a health crisis from diseases of affluence such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, which disproportionately affect the poorest in society. And most people are totally alienated from the health and environmental impacts of their dietary choices.
55% EU greenhouse gas
reduction target for 2030
Conventional agriculture requires unsustainable amounts of fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources. It causes pollution, soil erosion, desertification and loss of habitats.
We are an NGO that promote food literacy, community development, participatory ecology and well-being in cities through implementing holistic urban agriculture projects.
We combine the productivity of vertical agriculture with the therapeutic benefits of community vegetable gardens, composting and agroforestry, in order to create new spaces for meeting, debating, sharing and living together in the heart of cities.
Holistic Urban Agriculture Systems
in the Heart of Cities.
A Vision of the Future:
A New Urban Food
We grow food within walking distance of where it will be consumed. This means no diesel-fuelled transport networks creating air pollution and traffic. It also reduces packaging and the waste it eventually becomes.
As soon as a plant is harvested, its nutritional value starts to decrease. By reducing the time from farm to table to an absolute minimum, we deliver the maximum nutritional value of our crops to consumers.
We enable people to see and participate in the food-growing process on their doorstep. We provide educational workshops to our client communities, so they understand and appreciate the food that nourishes them.
What We Grow
How We Grow
No Synthetic Materials or GMO
Our growing media, fertilisers and pest control substances all come from natural sources, and we never use genetically-modified products.
Locally Sourced Materials
We buy our plants, seeds, growing media and other products from Portuguese suppliers unless it is absolutely necessary to look abroad. We are always searching for more local suppliers and partners.
Integrated Pest and Disease Management
We control pests and diseases using a combination of mechanical (eg. crop rotation), biological (eg. ladybirds) and naturally-sourced substances (eg. vegetables oils).
Vertical Farming, Horizontal Solidarity
“Vertical Farming, Horizontal Solidarity” is a project for social inclusion funded by the BPI Foundation “la Caixa” Solidarity 2022 Award, Race for Good and a group of private donors, which includes the installation of a vertical farming at the Torres Novas’s Prision, where around 40 inmates, together with the prison guards, are responsible for its management.
Its objective is to improve the diet of the inmate population, as well as support 100 families in need identified by CRIT and Cruz Vermelha Torres Novas, through the distribution of food baskets with vegetables grown and harvested by the inmates
From School To Table
From School to Table is a community project funded by Lisbon City Hall’s program Bip-Zip (Priority Intervention Zones). It aims to implement a holistic production system with vertical farming, horizontal farming, agroforetry and composting at Escola Básica Dom Luís da Cunha
The project seeks to explore the pedagogical potential of this model, in order to awaken children’s interest in biodiversity, food and sustainable consumption, and encourage more responsible habits, promoting environmental conservation and the social, physical and mental well-being of the entire the school community.
Curraleira’s Community Garden
This workshop was part of the Community Artistic Workshops of the Iminente Festival in 2022, sponsored by the EDP Foundation, with the implementation of horizontal vegetable gardens and a composting station in the Curraleira neighbourhood. The aim was to awaken the interest of children and young people in biodiversity, sustainable food and consumption, as well as to stimulate responsible habits, environmental conservation and the social, physical and mental well-being of the community.
Through articulation with the network of local partners, the necessary tools were provided to train Associação Geração com Futuro and the workshop participants, guaranteeing their autonomy in managing this system. A potential model to be applied in other territories with similar challenges, promoting active citizenship and a commitment to cultural change towards sustainable development.
The Food Temple
This is the first rotating vertical farm in Europe, and the first outdoor vertical farm in Portugal.
This 6m tall vertical farm hosts up to 900 plants on 22 trays, producing about 10x more than conventional horizontal agriculture in the same space. It was initially planted on 1 October 2021, with a mix of autumnal greens (chard, spinach, mustard, lettuce, parsley, coriander, chives, cabbage). As an experimental Upfarm and the first of its kind, we are monitoring all stages and results closely, in order to optimize growing conditions and quantify the environmental benefits.
It is housed at the Palacio Pimenta in the Museum of Lisbon, which you can visit for free 6 days a week (not on Mondays), and then enter the exhibition Hortas de Lisboa where you can see our utopian vision of Lisbon’s future food landscape.
Early in 2022, the Food Temple will be looking for a new home, so get in touch if you want to grow enough leafy greens to feed 40 people per day!
Hortas de Lisboa Exhibition
“Edible Lisbon: Eight vertical farms for the city”
The exhibit on the display table reflects on the role of the architect in transforming Lisbon into a self-sufficient city, one which enhances the collective awareness of what is being produced and consumed.
With food being such a key feature of urban policy, the architect’s task is to incorporate agriculture into the urban masterplan, exploring new narratives, habits and collaborations which can reduce the distances – both physical and conceptual – between us and what we eat.
Rooted in this premise, we present eight case studies which address the need for efficient urban production, and which re-imagine Lisbon’s food chain by situating vertical farms in existing spaces which are currently available and under-utilised.
The exercise concludes with strategies to occupy empty urban spaces with buildings dedicated to achieving food sovereignty in our cities.
From Sky To Table
From Sky to Table is a community project funded by Lisbon City Hall’s program Bip-Zip (Priority Intervention Zones). It aims to promote dietary self-sufficiency through vertical farming, for local communities in the neighbourhoods of Murtas and São João de Brito and Pote D’Água in Alvalade. It also aims to enrich the socio-cultural fabric of the area, building bridges between people through the communal creation and consumption of sustainable food.
The vertical farm is located in the Parque Hortícola Aquilino Ribeiro Machado, situated between these two neighbourhoods, where local people can gather to learn, collaborate and reflect on the shared experience of growing their own food.
The project aims to explore the educational potential of this model, transforming consumers into producers, empowering residents to collectively manage a fruitful shared resource. The goal is to improve the wellbeing of the local population by connecting them to each other and the natural world on their doorstep, taking control of what they consume and reducing their environmental footprint in the process.
Who is Upfarming?
Co-Founder & Managing Director
Tiago Sá Gomes is the co-founder of Parto Atelier, an architecture studio founded in 2016. Besides the common practice the studio has vividly participated in community projects around the subjects of ecology, horticulture and sustainability in urban settlements. Recent projects of interest include the Garden Shelter of Horta FCUL, the Vermicomposting Network for Mouraria Composta, a Composting Platform of Palácio Pimenta and the renovation of a 19th century greenhouse in Museu de Lisboa’s gardens.
Bárbara Arita graduated in architecture and began her journey in Brazil working on social projects to improve housing conditions in poor communities. In Portugal, she developed her master’s thesis on the relationship between agriculture and architecture at different scales in the city. At the same time, she co-founded Rizoma Cooperative, the first community-owned grocery store in Lisbon and joined EASA, a decentralized network that explores alternative forms of education and architectural practices. She currently collaborates on several cross-disciplinary projects and is committed to the creation of fairer, sustainable and more self-sufficient cities.
With a background in sociology, Maria Canelhas works on projects that focus on community empowerment to overcome environmental, social and economic problems. She worked with Fruta Feia (Ugly Fruit), a consumers’ cooperative that brings together farmers and consumers to fight food waste due to appearance in Portugal. She then worked in Bilbao with EIT Food (European Institute of Innovation and Technology), connecting startups, academia and business to work together on innovation projects that tackle the biggest issues of the agrifood sector in Europe. She wants to dedicate her energy to
help building more sustainable food systems and resilient communities.
Finance Manager & Project Manager
Deise Cristina Nicoletto is an Economist and postgraduate in strategic management. She worked for a few years with strategic planning in multinationals and startups such as LBR, Brown Forman and Pernod Ricard Brasil. Founder of Impact Hub Brasilia since 2017. She developed a program focused on behavioral finance that was nationally awarded as a social technology. Today, collaborating with this wide network of actors through the Impact Hub ecosystem, Deise seeks to make the world a better and more egalitarian place.
José Tavares graduated in History in 2012 and is currently completing his master’s degree in Agronomical Engineering, after graduating in the same area in 2021. In between, he’s been developing interests in the areas of Ecology and Human Rights activism by being a member and coordinator of Amnesty International’s Leiria Local Group and currently co-founding the multi-sectoral cooperative Cápsula. Identifying a clear link between Human Rights violations, climate crisis and industrial agriculture, he hopes to use this platform and the knowledge he’s been acquiring in building more agroecological and fairer food production systems.
Co-Founder & Member of the Advisory Board
Margarida Villas-Boas has more than 17 years of senior management, marketing and fundraising experience in Portugal, Spain and the UK. In her last position, she successfully restructured the London-based operation of Ace Africa, a development NGO operating in rural Kenya and Tanzania, and quadrupled yearly income to £2 million over four years. She just completed a master’s degree in Climate Change and Development at SOAS, University of London, winning Best Dissertation Prize.
Co-Founder & Member of the Advisory Board
Bruno Lacey is the founder of Urban Growth, a social enterprise that creates and maintains green spaces in London. Now in its 7th year, it works with local government, businesses and international brands such as Timberland and LindaMcCartney Foods, to improve Londoners’ wellbeing through connecting them with nature in the city. His side hustles include delivering the Social Entrepreneur’s Toolkit, a course for aspiring founders, and creating Climate Change the Game, the world’s most sustainable board game.
Co-Founders & Members of the Advisory Board
Parto Atelier is a Lisbon based architecture studio founded in 2016 by Filipa Neiva, Francisco Pitrez e Tiago Sá Gomes. Besides the common practice, the studio has participated in community projects focused on ecology, horticulture and sustainability in the urban context. Recent projects of interest include the Garden Shelter of Horta FCUL, the Vermicomposting Network for Mouraria Composta, the Composting Platform of Museu de Lisboa, the renovation of a 19th century greenhouse in Palácio Pimenta’s gardens, and more recently the commission for developing the installation Lisboa Comestível for the exhibition Hortas de Lisboa, inaugurated in October 2020.