Outdoor living wall systems in a developing economy: A prospect for supplementary urban food production?
Keywords:climate change, edible living walls, green walls, living wall systems, urban food production
Green wall systems have greatly advanced over the past few decades and hold important potential for the future in light of predicted urban population growth, densification, and climate change. This article provides a brief background to living walls, followed by a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of the four types of systems that are currently available in South Africa. It makes use of a case study review of three recently implemented edible living walls in Gauteng to reflect on the challenges currently experienced and the future potential benefits, with specific focus on system resilience, economic feasibility, and edible plant possibilities. Interviews were conducted with clients and client representatives, contractors and/or designers on each project. The findings suggest that living walls have indirect commercial value through customer experience and satisfaction, as well as educational value. Should the scale, economic feasibility and resilience of living wall systems be enhanced, they can improve urban food production. The article concludes that this could be achieved in the Global South by using simplistic technologies with lower cost living wall infrastructure systems. When deployed on a large scale, with climate-tolerant indigenous and edible plants in exterior systems, productivity will be improved.
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