Farming upwards in the Taiwan metro

While folks in the US and the UK are going upwards to grow food vertically, Taiwan is taking a different approach. It is using vacant metro spaces to help feed commuters with fresh produce.

Located at capital city Taipei’s Nanjing-Fushing Station, the 40 square-metre ‘Metro Fresh’ hydroponic farm grows lettuce under LED lighting in a sterile environment to eliminate the use of pesticides and herbicides.

Taiwan Metro photo

The greens and fresh salads will be put up for sale on the third floor of the MRT station, according to the Taiwan Rapid Transit Corporation. The farming zone also lets elementary school students to learn about environmental technologies and improve ESG awareness.

Earlier this year, a Metro Corner and Metro Shop was established at the transportation hub to sell products from foods to essential oils to meet everyday needs of people living a fast-paced life. It is part of Taipei Metro’s initiative to develop the lifestyle business.

Taiwan has a population of 23.57 million people but a surface area of only 36,197 km², so being able to use space as efficiently as possible is crucial.

Vertical indoor farms, also known as “smart farms”, have become popular in Taiwan as the island’s young population are reluctant to join the agricultural workforce. Technology sector jobs are better paid and offer more opportunity for growth, and smart farms are less labor intensive and use technology to increase yields and mitigate weather fluctuations.

“One thing that most people are worried about is the unavoidable use of pesticides in traditional land based farming,” says Julia Yang of Unimicron Technology, the company behind the metro farm. Their high tech equipment regulates light, temperature and nutrients which are most beneficial to plant growth, and they have no insect egg problem because they grow hydroponically, she says.

“Right now our production yield is about 180 bags of lettuce, each bag is 200 grams. We can produce 180 bags of lettuce each week,” says Winnie Chan, deputy manager at Unimicron Plant Technology.

Separately, the MRT Nanjing Fuxing station is presenting an augmented reality show where riders can see floating dinosaurs and sea creatures like jellyfish on the platform. People scan a QR code in the metro network and download the AR Plaza POP application to enjoy the experience.


Taipei Metro station transformed into organic farm. Taiwan News, Oct. 5, 2022

Taiwan is transforming unused metro stations into underground vertical farms. EuroNews, Oct. 5, 2022

Taiwan uses train stations for farms, Fruitnet, Oct. 5, 2022