This is a bit of horticultural hype considering that the “smart” relates only to a quality of the fabric used to make the bag (not really a pot). Without going into the horticultural nitty-gritty, the fabric prevents roots from growing in a circular pattern and girdling the tree. These are really meant as tree planters you see.
The benefit of these bags at Public Farm 1 is they provided a means of offsite growing and ease of transport to the site. They really have no other specific value in this project since these are one-season vegetables, not trees.
You can see in the top photo that there is an ordinary drip system installed. Collected rainwater is fed to the plants this way. There are more photos of the planters here.
I understand why the architects and consultants used the system they did. The shortfall is that it is not relevant to urbanites interested in growing vegetables in the city.
Urbanites are not likely to use these so-called “smart pots”. They just aren’t practical for city patios, pavements, balconies and rooftops.
From a public education viewpoint, it would have been better to sub-irrigate these vegetables as is done in EarthBoxes and home made sub-irrigated grow boxes. This method is perfect for urban agriculture on a small one-box scale to gardens with many boxes.
Using sub-irrigated planting, Public Farm 1 would be a leading edge demonstration garden of 21st century urban vegetable growing on a very personal level.
Public Farm 1 is the name of the summer season edible garden installed in the courtyard of P.S.1 an affiliate of The Museum of Modern Art. Work AC, a New York architectural firm, won this annual Young Architects Program competition.
They now have a most informative website that details how the project evolved. Have a look at this time-lapse video and watch the garden come to life in a matter of minutes.
I picked a bad time to visit on a Saturday evening. There was a party at the museum, it was packed and the music was loud. I’ll go back on a weekday and take some pictures when things will be quieter.
In looking at the planter construction, this was obviously a missed opportunity to employ sub-irrigation. Thanks to our ultraconservative horticultural educators, the architectural and design community is largely unaware of the “green” benefits of sub-irrigated planters.
I have no doubt that sub-irrigation would be saving water and producing a higher vegetable yield in this unique urban agriculture project.