Friday, March 25, 2011

Technology meets the Urban Farmer

Hydroponic and aquaponic companies were mingled in between vendors at the FamilyFarmed Expo March 17-19th, proudly exposing the benefits of the new "avant-gardening" organic, urban farming technique. Our own farmer at the Urban Farm at through UIC's Jane Addams Hull House Museum built his own aquaponic system in the hoop-house to allow for all year-round gardening.

So what exactly are Aquaponics?
  • Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics.
  • Hydroponics is the process of growing plants in water.

In aquaponics, the nutrient-rich water that results from raising fish provides a source of natural fertilizer for the growing plants. As the plants consume the nutrients, they help to purify the water that the fish live in. A natural microbial process keeps both the fish and plants healthy. This creates a sustainable ecosystem where both plants and fish can thrive. Aquaponics is the ideal answer to a fish farmers problem of disposing of nutrient rich water and a hydroponic growers need for nutrient rich water.

How do we benefit from using Aquaponics?
  • Aquaponics uses less than 2% of the water that traditional farming does.
  • Aquaponics is energy-efficient: our current systems use one-tenth of the energy conventional farming does!
  • Aquaponics has eight to ten times more vegetable production in the same area and time.
  • Aquaponics is fully scalable from indoor systems to backyard family systems to full commercial systems.
  • Aquaponics is pure, clean, and natural: USDA Certified Organic and Food Safety Certified.
  • Aquaponics is easy to learn and operate: anyone can do this!

Companies have taken these concepts to the innovative extreme in relation to local, urban and organic farming.

Friendly Aquaponics is a company based out of Hawaii. They grow these items for income:
Malaysian Giant River Prawn; these grow in the hydroponics troughs under the vegetables and don't eat the roots. White Tilapia. We think these are a cross between niloticus and mossambicus.

1. Malaysian Giant River Prawn grow in the hydroponics troughs under the vegetables and don't eat the roots.
2. Ninety different vegetable varieties were planted in their first aquaponics system for market tests and to see what grew best.
3. White Tilapia are through to be a cross between niloticus and mossambicus.

here™ is a Chicago-based company that wants to provide urban dwellers with as local and organic food as possible.
We think of ourselves as cutting edge farmers, but truth be told the technology has existed for decades. Hydroponics is not new. We’ve simply refined and perfected the process of getting the greens to you faster and fresher.

Using hydroponics, aeroponics and aquaponics, here ™ is a whole new way to farm. First we find space. Where others see an abandoned building, we see a future farm. Then we create jobs. Modern urban farmers needed and wanted. We train. And provide opportunity and hope. Then we sow. And grow. And what do you get in return? The freshest, cleanest greens you’ve ever eaten. Greens not exposed to pollution or pesticides. Greens that don’t have to take a road trip to reach you. And greens that are easier on the Earth and its resources. It’s time to feed people in a more sustainable way.

We’re here™. And that’s exactly what we plan to do.

312 Aquaponics develops advanced Aquaponic technologies for commercial urban agriculture. They aim to usher in a new era of sustainable food and production.

The idea 312 Aquaponics began at the 2009 FamilyFarmed Expo. Recent UIC graduates interested in sustainable food in Chicago, realized its profitability in the city. They took a crash course on Aquaponics at Chicago State University and began approaching seed investors in 2010.

The company has signed on with The Plant's John Edel to rent out floor space to start selling systems to other farmers.


Steve Evans said...

Aquaponics has amazing synergies given that as a water engineer I gratly appreciate that the fish in fish farming elevates ammonia concentrations in the water the fish farms discharge, which can be very environmentally detrimental to the streams downstream. What I can't really undestand is how the practice can be, as claimed to be, a user of much less water than normal farming methods.

JonMalik said...

I have been very interested in Urban Farming as of late. Just checked out a website on window farms (google it) seems like it would be great to combine aquaponics and verticle "window farms" for asthetic and environmentally friendly ways to feed our urban population