Image credit: The Root Center
Will Allen's incredible Growing Power project has already gotten many people hooked on the idea of urban aquaponics. And there are plenty of DIY aquaponics enthusiasts tinkering with fish farming and produce growing in their backyards. An innovative non-profit project has just finished up a pilot project growing nearly 3000lb of fruit and vegetables on 1/10th of an acre, and is using that feat as leverage to create a massive, solar heated aquaponic greenhouse in the heart of a Vermont park. This really is a "Garden of the Future".From Backyard Greenhouses to Huge Aquaponics Project
Writing over at the Utopianist, Anna Loza brings us news of The Root Center's Garden of the Future aquaponics project planned for The National Gardening Association's Vermont Garden Park. Having completed a pilot phase of their project, in which the group established eight backyard sites located in seven different cities and grew 2600lbs of fruit and vegetables on a total of 1/10th of an acre, the Root Center is moving into phase II of its Garden of the Future plan:
The plan is to build a passive solar heated domed greenhouse, about 45 feet in diameter, which will house the team's working spaces while sustaining a year-round fish pond and creating a thriving natural habitat. And this is where things get interesting. Water containing fish waste will be cycled up to planters stacked within the dome which will use the waste as food; the water comes back clean to the fish pond, where bacteria self-regulate pH. This self-sustaining system will produce fruit, vegetables, flowers and fish on a year-round basis -- and it will be the continent's first organic fish farm to boot. The only inputs into the entire system are fish food and seedlings -- the aquaponic garden essentially transforms that fish food into fresh produce.
Can Aquaponics Be Organic?
The reference to organics is interesting. It implies that The Root Center is aiming for official organic status, at least for its fish production. Yet we know that there is some controversy over whether soil-less grow systems like aquaponics or hydroponics can be organic. We could end up in an interesting situation where the fish from the garden are organic, while the produce is (officially at least) not.
Wind and Solar-Powered Aquaponics
This isn't just about efficient food production though. The greenhouse will be designed for winterized, passive-solar heating, and the systems will be powered by innovative vertical axis wind turbines constructed by engineer and board member David Allard. (Todd Ecological of 'Living Machines' fame are also deeply involved with this project.)
Head on over to the Utopianist for more pictures, images and video of the Root Center's Garden of the Future project.