More Australians are growing their own vegetables as a cheap alternative to unpredictable produce prices caused by record rains and flooding.

But with backyard plots facing the same problems as the agriculture sector, hydroponics is increasingly seen as a solution.

Bunnings Warehouse said they had “seen an increase in popularity for edible plants such as herbs and vegetables”, but heavy rain had made growing vegetables as difficult as affording them.

Noah Verin from Urban Green, a vertical farm set up in an underground car park at Barangaroo, in central Sydney, said hydroponics were not only more reliable but when grown in urban areas easier to get to market and therefore fresher.

“There are so many different methods of farming in an urban context so it’s hard to say that any one is ‘the future’ but I would say that hydroponics will be an important component of the future of urban farming,” he told Central News.

“[It has the advantage of] the freshness of delivering a product that was harvested that morning as opposed to being transported to the markets, to an agent, to a wholesaler,  and finally to a restaurant.”

The plants grow in artificial light, and their conditions are carefully controlled by the company founded in 2016.

Urban Green, which claims to be the first  indoor commercial farm in Sydney, is currently only growing microgreens and spouts for the restaurant trade.

For those who don’t have access to soil and land, hydroponic farming offers the ability to farm a wide range of products in small spaces.

Verin said the company might begin to grow lettuce and edible flowers in the future, but that these larger greens are much more difficult to grow in vertical farms, because they require more space.

Anglicare Australia said more Australians were turning to food banks, like those provided by Anglicare, to mitigate the rising cost of living.

“With living costs going up, more and more people are turning to agencies like ours for help with the basics – like food, rent, or medicine for themselves and their children,” said Anglicare’s executive director Kasy Chambers.

Meanwhile Sarah Gray, from Arthur Street Verge Garden in Surry Hills, said expressions of interest in joining the community garden this year were down, as rainy weather made it harder to grow vegetables.

“[The] rainy weather hasn’t helped and probably outweighs an interest in saving money by growing produce,” she said.

Verin has previously suggested the future of hydroponics might involve partnering with traditional farms to grow seedlings.

While hydroponics will not be replacing traditional farms any time soon, he said one of the best uses of hydroponics is in an urban context, adding:  “For those who don’t have access to soil and land, hydroponic farming offers the ability to farm a wide range of products in small spaces.”

Main image supplied by Urban Green.