Over the last couple of years Tokyo’s train lines – the ones that are above ground – have undergone a massive investment to elevate the tracks. The initiative was primarily aimed at alleviating congestion on the roads because cars and buses had to wait until the tracks were clear before they could cross. Another benefit of elevating the tracks was that you free-up a lot of extra space underneath the tracks.
But how should the city utilize all this new space? Shaded from the sun, these dark and sometimes dreary spaces have been turned into bicycle and car parking. Surprisingly, where the sun doesn’t shine turns out to be an ideal setting for a garden.
We’re not talking about farms underneath the train tracks. Rather, Tokyo Salad is a project by the Tokyo Metro to create state-of-the-art indoor hydroponic farming stations that can grow vegetables without sunlight, dirt or pesticides. One of these stations has already been set up underneath the Tozai Line near Nishi-Kasai Station and it began operating at the beginning of last year.
Inside are vertically stacked hydroponic beds that grow leafy greens like endive, red kale, mizuna and even 3 varieties of lettuce. The project will be tested for 2 years with the objective of determining whether or not the Tokyo Metro can operate it as a sustainable business. If successful, one can assume that additional gardening stations will start showing up underneath tracks all around Tokyo.
Tokyo-based designer Chris Palmieri of AQ even spotted one in the wild, which indicates that they already have some fairly stable production and distribution. It was spotted at the basement of Hikarie department store in Shibuya.