Fancy some fish and vegetables tonight? Grown in your own back yard, on your office or restaurant roof, or in your neighbourhood farm? Aquaponics are seen by many as a solution to food security challenges created by rapid urbanisation. The system allows us to create super-high yield vegetable gardens with fish as a by-product.
I stumbled across aquaponics when I was researching my Will Allen post a short while ago. Since getting my head around the system I’ve become entranced by the urban possibilities that this system presents.
The aquaponics system creates a symbiosis of fish-microbes-plants that produces a steady supply of vegetables and fish, year round, at the cost of some fish food input and the running of a small pump. Sure this system doesn’t produce grain crops or fruit trees, but it can plug a huge gap in global protein production without the extraordinary ecological footprint of the systems we currently use. It cuts out the chemical fertiliser process and relies on good old-fashioned nature.
Here are some thoughts on applications;
- At Home: In your back yard is the easiest entry level. No way am I telling my wife about this idea yet [I’m still working up to the chooks then the beehive, but I can see a spot for aquaponics as well]
- Neighbourhood: A neighbourhood aquaponics greenhouse – staffed by you and your neighbours and administered by your local Council. Food at your front door, this would be a classic example of decentralised food production;
- Urban Rooftop: Rooftop greenhouses – I came across a few studies that showed a rooftop farm could supply enough food for 400 building occupants. The yield is super high.
- Restaurant: ever been to a Chinese restaurant and selected your fresh fish? Well now you could select the fish, the salad and greens, and the vegetables. Can’t get any fresher than that.
- Industry: Aquaponics service provider – this could be a whole new industry where technicians manage your installation for you, or indeed where you sell your surplus produce to a local grocery or restaurant. There are already flourishing business like this for chickens and bees. Why not fish?
I’m really looking forward to plugging one of these into some master planning work to see what happens.
And if you’re really keen, here’s something that looks like it’s out of Logan’s Run: