The Urban Aquaculture Center: Aquaponics Goes Big
While traditional aquaculture comes with both benefits and drawbacks, many folks believe it may play an increasingly important role in feeding a hungry world. And with urbanization continuing apace world-wide, anything that can bring food production closer to centers of consumption merits close attention. We've already written a little about urban aquaponics, an innovative merging of hydroponics and aquaculture, and now we've just heard via one of our local free papers about a proposed Urban Aquaculture Center (UAC) in Milwaukee. The UAC intends to combine a 150,000-sq ft indoor aquaculture/agriculture facility with educational facilities, sustainable farming exhibits, a restaurant and fish market.
The Urban Aquaculture Center's website is, unfortunately, a bit of a mess, at least from this user's perspective, and it's a little hard to extract information about the current state of the project. However, scanning the various blog entries there certainly seems to be a buzz of activity around this concept, and the City of Milwaukee has already thrown its weight behind the idea. The following from a press release was about the closest we could find to a summing up of the initiative and its objectives:
"In Milwaukee, the Urban Aquaculture Center is working to expand the industry using an approach that engages the community. The UAC hopes to have the City of Milwaukee lead the growth of urban aquaculture in the United States. To address the problem of the risk involved in start-up operations, the UAC seeks to have all of Milwaukee take on urban aquaculture as a new industry. This project requires the cooperation of all stakeholders — government, academia, and local businesses. What the UAC proposes is a large-scale perch production facility and an education center for the public, oriented to urban agriculture, particularly aquaculture.
Milwaukee is uniquely positioned for this endeavor for two primary reasons: its proximity to fresh water and to Growing Power, an urban teaching farm growing edible plants with fish in the same system. The Great Lakes WATER Institute and Growing Power are conducting tests on the ability of plants, worms and bacteria to remediate water in a perch grow-out system. The results thus far are encouraging. Adult perch have done well in a greenhouse environment with only a pump to move water to gravel beds containing plants and beneficial nitrifying bacteria. This system, which closely mimics nature, shows promise."
This certainly looks like an awesome project. We just wish the website was a little easier to navigate.