Aquaponics

darksai

Jedi Master
Just found this on my facebook feed and found it quite ingenious and thought I'd share it here as there doesn't seem to be any threads dedicated to the topic. I think it's definitely something worth exploring for those who live in cities and more generally with regards to the food crisis.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=3IryIOyPfTE

The land in West Oakland where Eric Maundu is trying to farm is covered with freeways, roads, light rail and parking lots so there's not much arable land and the soil is contaminated. So Maundu doesn't use soil. Instead he's growing plants using fish and circulating water.
It's called aquaponics- a gardening system that combines hydroponics (water-based planting) and aquaculture (fish farming). It's been hailed as the future of farming: it uses less water (up to 90% less than traditional gardening), doesn't attract soil-based bugs and produces two types of produce (both plants and fish).
Aquaponics has become popular in recent years among urban gardeners and DIY tinkerers, but Maundu- who is trained in industrial robotics- has taken the agricultural craft one step further and made his gardens smart. Using sensors (to detect water level, pH and temperature), microprocessors (mostly the open-source Arduino microcontroller), relay cards, clouds and social media networks (Twitter and Facebook), Maundu has programmed his gardens to tweet when there's a problem (e.g. not enough water) or when there's news (e.g. an over-abundance of food to share).
Maundu himself ran from agriculture in his native Kenya- where he saw it as a struggle for land, water and resources. This changed when he realized he could farm without soil and with little water via aquaponics and that he could apply his robotics background to farming. Today he runs Kijani Grows ("Kijani" is Swahili for green), a small startup that designs and sells custom aquaponics systems for growing food and attempts to explore new frontiers of computer-controlled gardening. Maundu believes that by putting gardens online, especially in places like West Oakland (where his solar-powered gardens are totally off the grid), it's the only way to make sure that farming remains viable to the next generation of urban youth.
 

echo

Jedi
Thanks for posting darksai. I thought this was really cool, shared it on facebook. The possibilities of the sensors is huge. I don't know anything about modern farming, maybe they use sensors too? A really cool idea and Mandu's enthusiasm for growing food was inspiring too.
:)
 

chaps23

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
I actually have a friend I work with who does aquaponics, its really quite impressive!

You will find all the information you need here http://www.aquaponics.net.au/ Its actually fairly easy to get set up. If your an aussie you can get baby trout for 55c each!!! just here http://www.ballarat.com/fishing/acclimatisation_society.htm

Good luck anyone wishing to follow this further my friend is having great success with this system but he had a few failures first DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Regards,
Brent
 

happyliza

The Living Force
Was really impressed with what this guy is doing. Just need to know what we could eat/grow on paleo let alone ketogenic diet. Fish of course ok. Do any oily fish survive in fresh water? Also off grid is great, don't think the internet bit will work if all goes down but still brilliant whilst we have it.

I would certainly be using this system as part of my project when we get started. I so miss water cress! But again, thinking survival, a combination of growing models are ideal. I can see how this would work, especially if we have no sunshine or the sky is blocked out. Is there is some other method other than solar in which to get light/artificial light to the plants/fish?

Have seen humans peddling cycles to run washing machines, we have donkeys here lol. Also need to consider radiation and not being able to be out doors at all - basement stuff.

Cos even if it is to feed the livestock it would be worth it. Again would it ever be feasible for livestock to survive, considering the above?

Am very interested in pursuing what kind of system could work for us and how we could maintain it for our diets. Anyone come up with any ideas so far?
 
Here’s info from a local non-profit who does the aquaponics and teaches it to the public, Growing Power.

One thing they focus on is reclaiming old factories and renting them out to independent “farmers” who use this system and collectively distribute their salads & fish at the co-ops and resturants and farmers markets. Additionally, they are very keen on working with the disadvantaged population in Milwaukee, considering clean food to be a human right and teaching city kids about composting, farming, aquaponics, bee keeping and chicken coops (which became legal in this city last year). Pretty amazing stuff!


www(dot)growingpower.org/aquaponics.htm

Aquaculture is the symbiotic cultivation of plants and aquatic animals in a re-circulating system. Growing Power uses Tilapia and Yellow Perch to fertilize a variety of crops and herbs using aquaponics.

Aquaponics is the method of growing crops and fish together in a re-circulating system. In the Growing Power aquaponics model crops grow vertically on raised beds.

Fish such as Tilapia and Yellow Perch are raised in a large tank of water. Growing Power uses Tilapia and Yellow Perch in our aquaponics systems because they are relatively easy to raise and because we can market them to restaurants, market basket customers, and they are a favorite in ethnic markets. Read more about Yellow Perch and Tilapia below.

By using gravity as a transport, water is drained from the fish tank into a gravel bed. Here, beneficial bacteria break down the toxic ammonia in fish waste to Nitrite and then to Nitrogen, a key nutrient for plant development. On the gravel bed, we also use watercress as a secondary means of water filtration.

The filtered water is pumped from the gravel bed to the growing beds, where we raise a variety of crops from specialty salad greens to tomatoes. The water is wicked up to the crops roots with the help of coir, a by-product of coconut shells and a sustainable replacement for peat moss.

Finally, the water flows from the growing beds back into the tank of fish. Growing Power uses this type of aquaponics system because it is easy to build and only needs a small pump and heat to get the system running.


Two types of fish we grow:

Yellow Perch
Yellow Perch is a species of perch found in the United States and Canada and is a glacial lakes species. They prefer cooler water which makes them ideal to raise in our hoop houses at Growing Power. These full-bodied fish are a favorite with chefs due to their white, flaky, delicious meat.

Yellow Perch are also in short supply. Lake Michigan's yellow perch numbers have decreased 80 percent since 1990. States surrounding the Lake Michigan have put regulations on yellow perch fishing. For instance, Wisconsin banned commercial fishing for yellow perch in Lake Michigan in 1997.

What does Perch eat? In nature, Yellow Perch are primarily bottom feeders and eat almost anything, but prefer minnows, insect larvae, plankton, and worms. At Growing Power, our perch eat a combination of commercial feed and worms.

Tilapia
Originally found in Africa, Tilapia has been farmed for more than 2,500 years. Tilapia is a perfect fish for aquaponics because of its rapid growth, large size, and because it tastes great. This hardy fish can adapt to most any condition with the exception of water temperature. Tilapia prefer warm water - at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes about 9 months for our Tilapia to grow to a harvestable size, about 1.5 pounds.

What does Tilapia eat? At Growing Power, we feed our fish duckweed, ground-up salad greens from the greenhouse, worms, and Tilapia love to eat algae from the side of the tank.


Why do we use compost in our system?
We fill our growing pots with a mixture of coir and compost. The coir is made from discarded coconut husks and helps wick water to the plant's root system. The compost provides extra nutrient to grow an abundance of crops within the system. Traditional hydroponic growing, or growing without soil, relies on fish waste alone to fertilize the crops. The problem is, you can only grow crops with lower nutritional needs such as basil. For example, in most traditional hydroponic systems, Boron is found in very low quantities. Boron is essential for flower development in crops - tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers - which means that production for these kinds of crops is very low in hydroponic systems. At Growing Power, we solved this problem by adding nutrient rich compost to the pots in our system. Still have doubts? Come by the farm and try one of our tomatoes grown in our aquaponics system. Satisfaction is guaranteed.

Interested in learning more? Come to Milwaukee and learn how to build your own system at a Growing Power's workshop.

Milwaukee Headquarters: 5500 W. Silver Spring Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53218 Tel. 414.527.1546

Chicago Projects Office: 3333 S. Iron Street, Chicago, IL 60608 Tel. 773.376.8882



I also wanted to point out another local favorite, who is doing similar work, but not with aquaponics, but with building small garden plots with clean soil on urban lawns (Milwaukee) - Victory Gardens (http: //victorygardeninitiative .org/). Here’s some info:

Victory Garden Initiative empowers communities to grow food, reintegrating human and food ecology and advancing a resilient food culture.

We are a grass-roots nonprofit organization that:

- teaches and promotes urban permaculture
- builds gardens
- organizes communities
- grows food forests
- cultivates leadership

And a community of gardeners that promote:

- social justice
- environmental sustainability
- food sovereignty
- food security
- health and wellness

...all through growing food!

THIS IS A GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT.
MOVE GRASS. GROW FOOD.


The purpose of the Victory Garden Initiative of WWI and WWII was to support the war effort. People throughout the United States grew their own produce in yards, parks, and other community spaces so that all available resources could go towards the war effort. At this time, we are once again in our green spaces growing food, but today we are fighting a different kind of battle. We are fighting for food security and the health of our ecosystems. We are fighting for resilient communities that support one another and for strong local economies. Through gardening we are seeking a connection to the cycle of life, and for good, tasty food…from garden to plate.

So how does one become a Victory Gardener of today, you ask? It’s quite simple. We become vegetable gardeners. If we are already vegetable gardeners, we help someone else do so through mentoring. We find creative ways to grow food right where we are, in our yards, on our rooftops, on our patios – no piece of earth should be overlooked. We garden ubiquitously and confidently knowing that we are doing what is best for our families, our communities, and our country.


The below winning proposal was submitted by Victory Gardens, again, pretty amazing stuff!!

www(dot)jsonline.com/blogs/entertainment/177191481.html


Milwaukee a finalist in Bloomberg challenge
By Mary Louise Schumacher of the Journal Sentinel
Nov. 5, 2012

Milwaukee is one of 20 cities named a finalist in The Mayor’s Challenge, a national competition organized by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to generate innovative, local solutions to national problems.

More than 300 cities entered the competition, which comes with a $5 million grand prize.
“Let me start off by saying, we’re in, we made the cut,” said Mayor Tom Barrett to a group gathered Monday at Walnut Way Conservation Corp., a neighborhood organization and urban garden in a former drug house.

Milwaukee’s proposal, submitted by Barrett and called “Home Gr/Own,” seeks to transform foreclosed properties into links in a new supply chain for nutritious food. Homes and lots will be used for urban farms, community kitchens and distribution centers.

The project will be a combination of old-fashioned homesteading, offering participating entrepreneurs an opportunity to take ownership of properties, and the use of new technologies to link individual projects into a larger food distribution system.

Milwaukee’s Department of City Development is already creating data-rich maps to identify the best properties for the initiative, which Barrett says will go forward in some fashion whether Milwaukee wins the competition or not.

The hope is that databases and technology can be used to identify and track what resources are particularly needed in the food supply chain, the productivity of the soil in various neighborhoods and other important feedback, said Matt Howard, environmental sustainability director for the city. .

“Home Gr/Own” will attempt to build on the success of urban agriculture programs already in existence in Milwaukee while creating economic development in distressed neighborhoods and making nutritious and locally sourced foods more available citywide, Barrett argues.

“As I look around the city and see so much emptiness, it is important that we reclaim the empty spots of the city and literally plant new life,” said Venice Williams, of Alice’s Garden, in the video created by the city and screened for the crowd at Monday’s event.

As much as 69% of Milwaukeeans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, according to the city’s written application.

“What makes this proposal different than the others and why I think it is so winning is that it connects the dots,” said Magda Peck, dean of School of Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who also spoke at Walnut Way. “Its not just about food production, food supply, food access. It is about the ability to be able to eat well, eat long and be healthy from generation to generation.”

The finalist cities have been invited to send teams to New York City for an intensive two-day “ideas camp” next week. Barrett said he’s interested in hearing the ideas from other finalist cities, such as a plan to combat infant mortality in Cincinnati and to decrease domestic violence in High Point, North Carolina.

The team representing Milwaukee will leave for New York Sunday and includes Howard, Sharon Adams, director of program for Walnut Way, Sharon Robinson, director of administration for the city, and Maria Prioletta, redevelopment and special projects manager for the city’s Department of City Development.

The finalists will then submit refined proposals early in 2013. In addition to the $5 million winner, four runners up will get $1 million each. The winners will be announced in the second quarter of 2013. The Mayor’s Challenge is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Bloomberg's family foundation.

“I can tell you in my eight and a half years as mayor we haven’t had a better response to an initiative that we’ve put together,” Barrett said. “And really what happened, I think, was that we hit a nerve, in a positive way, we hit a nerve because this is something people are interested in in our city, dealing with the issue of food security, of urban agriculture, of making this a better place to not only raise food but to have healthier foods.”

Monday’s event ended with a celebratory toast of fresh juices from The Juice Kitchen.
See a full list of the 20 finalists here. Here also is a video that Barrett's team submitted with the Bloomberg application. It was produced by Tim McCollow, directed by Arthur Ircink and with cinematography by Ircink, Chris Thompson, Frankie Latina and Amanda Griffin.
 

chaps23

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
happyliza said:
Was really impressed with what this guy is doing. Just need to know what we could eat/grow on paleo let alone ketogenic diet. Fish of course ok. Do any oily fish survive in fresh water? Also off grid is great, don't think the internet bit will work if all goes down but still brilliant whilst we have it.

I would certainly be using this system as part of my project when we get started. I so miss water cress! But again, thinking survival, a combination of growing models are ideal. I can see how this would work, especially if we have no sunshine or the sky is blocked out. Is there is some other method other than solar in which to get light/artificial light to the plants/fish?

Have seen humans peddling cycles to run washing machines, we have donkeys here lol. Also need to consider radiation and not being able to be out doors at all - basement stuff.

Cos even if it is to feed the livestock it would be worth it. Again would it ever be feasible for livestock to survive, considering the above?

Am very interested in pursuing what kind of system could work for us and how we could maintain it for our diets. Anyone come up with any ideas so far?

Hi Happyliza,

Silver perch will grow really quickly and provide good nutrients but it all depends on what you feed them they are easy maintenance and hardy fish that will survive rapid temp & PH changes,

Salmon are an oily fish that survive fresh partially salted water, further research suggests you can add up to 6kg's of salt per 1000 lt into the water and most freshwater fish will be fine with it My firend uses 2Kg of himilayan salt.

Trout are proabbly the best tasting and fast growing, up to a KG in a single year. Will need imaculate water quality to survive so be carefull if using them and the temperature can not change anywhere outside 17-19 degrees as research suggest's on the above website.
 
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