With increasing pressures like high food costs and the desire to avoid genetically-modified food as much as possible, there's been a growing interest in practices like aquaponics, once the preserve of survivalists and small-scale farmers. Now, with the availability of more off-the-shelf-systems, aquaponics (hydroponics plus aquaculture) is catching on.
Aqualibrium Garden, a pre-assembled, modular aquaponics system, which was successfully Kickstarted recently, could mean that growing food and fish in a small apartment could be aquaponics' next frontier.
Designed by two law students and an aquaponics professional, Aqualibrium is aimed squarely at the urban denizen who doesn't have the time nor space to develop their own food-growing system. Enter this convenient solution, says co-creator Joshua Rittenberg on Co.Design:
People in urban environments typically don’t have the necessary environment for growing their own food. Right now, there is no product on the market that allows for substantial food production using either aquaponics or hydroponics that is designed for urban living and is cost-effective.
Built out of clear polycarbonate, the modules are stackable, with the fish-raising portion on the bottom. Aquaponics builds a symbiotic relationship between fish and food plants: the fish provide nutritious fecal matter for the plants through water which is circulated from below up to the plants, which eventually filter clean water back down to the fish tank, usually via a pump. Built on a larger scale, aquaponic systems can also therefore provide sizable fish for food.
The residential-scaled Aqualibrium system -- which bears an uncanny resemblance to a food-producing litter box, and comes with kid- and pet-proof shields -- can be used as an aquaponic or hydroponic system. In either case, the point is to give consumers control over what they eat, says Rittenberg:
This will allow individuals to begin to take ownership over food production. GMOs, pesticides, and all the negative issues currently associated with mass-produced food are causing a growing number of Americans to demand more locally sourced food. This product is as local as it gets. It’s sitting in the living room.
Though there aren't any estimates on how many pounds of food could be grown in one unit at a time, the best thing is that it is a modular system, so it can expand to different needs and spaces. One Aqualibrium Garden set is priced at $300; to pre-order, you can still check the Kickstarter page for more details. For those who do have the time and space in the backyard, check out how you can also do-it-yourself.