Kale For The People: Can Aquaponics Turn A Hipster Haven Into Farmland?

Like all things artisan, it must start in our beloved borough of Brooklyn with three aquaponic farmlands: Edenworks, OKO and Verticulture.

By Team Agorafy January 16, 2017
Credit: Edenworks. Photo courtesy of Inhabitat.

When one hears the word, “Aquaponics”, images of Superheros dressed in costumes saving the world from evil doers may come to mind. In reality, Aquaponics is an organic and mechanical system of filtration in which the waste produced by farmed fish enables nutrients to be delivered to plants grown hydroponically, which in turn –  purify the water. Sounds like something from a Marvel graphic novel? Well, it’s actually a reality and happening closer to you than you think.

Related: NYC Rooftop Gardens: Grow Your Dinner While You Power Your AC

Like all things bespoke and artisan, it must start in our beloved borough of Brooklyn. Three such Aquaponic Farms: Edenworks, OKO and Verticulture call this borough home.

Since Aquaponics is as trendy as pickling your own beets, the hipsters got their hands on it—and thankfully so. Aquaponics uses only a fraction of the water used in conventional farming and can use even less if you collect rainwater to add to your system. Aquaponics also can grow more produce compared to the conventional way—in the ground. Vegetables sprout up more quickly with Aquaponic farming and with more density—all without losing the good stuff (read: nutrients). The best part is that it’s 100% chemical free. This method of farming is perfect for large cities as it’s low-maintenance and can be set up practically anywhere—from vacant lots to roof-tops.

Verticulture NYC / Via The Fish Site

The ancient Aztecs and Chinese were recycling fish waste to fertilize plants way before it was cool.  The Aztecs first planted vegetable crops on hand-made floating islands. The ancient Chinese utilized a similar system where plants, fish and ducks formed an organic filtration system that would naturally irrigate their rice fields.

Edenworks of Brooklyn is taking a page from history, and in turn, is able to grow 130,000 pounds of greens and 50,000 pounds of fish each year. Verticulture took over an empty Pfizer manufacturing plant in Bedstuy, and is farming the ever popular kale along with Brooklyn-born-and-raised tilapia.

Related: Emergency Shelter Comes With A Built-In Cricket Farm

According to the speech entitled, ‘FoodWorks: A Vision of NYC’s Food System’, given by City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn in 2010, “The New York City food market consists of over 30 billion dollars in spending. We’re a city of more than 20,000 restaurants, and 1.4 million New Yorkers struggle to put food on the table.”

So, Aquaponic farms like Verticulture may be the answer. They’re producing 30 to 40 pounds of basil a week thanks to the help of 150-180 tilapia.  This could help the issue that New Yorkers and the country face by helping to feed lower income and struggling households, nutritious food for lower costs.

In total, Aquaponics not only reduces pollution, but it helps shrink the ever growing carbon footprint by reducing waste and conserving natural resources. This method of farming offers healthy, affordable food options and is becoming more ubiquitous than the man-bun. It’s also better for all of us.

Team Agorafy



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