This is a special guest post from Brian Filipowich, Director of Anacostia Aquaponics. To keep getting great content from guests like him, make sure you check out our vertical farming newsletter.
Aquaponics epitomizes the beauty of the closed loop production model, but it’s a little hard to get into. Here, Brian walks you through the easiest way to get up and running with decent yields from a DIY aquaponics system for your living room.
Let me start out by saying that this is actually one of the best critiques of vertical farming that’s out there. And I’m not surprised, the author, Stan Cox, works at the Land Institute, one of the most important groups for agricultural transformation out there . They do some really incredible things and I have a huge amount of respect for their work. Unfortunately, it seems they still fall into the same trap as everyone else that wants to talk about how the sun is free and how important soil is; they assume that because vertical farming can’t solve everything, it should solve nothing.
I’m going to go paragraph by paragraph and respond to Stan Cox’s article and address the misconceptions there. This is not a fluff piece, this is not a blog post meant for internet readability. This is a take down.
Going back through materials you saved over the past year is a bit of a New Year’s chore. But sometimes, you strike gold. Here is a great news story on Chicago’s first certified aquaponics producer.
Some things to note:
This project was associated with The Plant, an operation the Urban Vertical Project loves to cover.
Greens and Gills was taking advantage of all available space in their operation by growing on multiple levels – hinting at the potential coming fusion of aquaponics and vertical farming.
It took 2 whole years of research and $150,000 to get the project underway.
The business has since been put up for sale. While we have seen aquaponics work extremely well on a small scale and the sustainability potential for growing like this is huge, it does seem to reinforce the hypothesis that commercial aquaponic farms aren’t quite ready. They seem to last for even less time than commercial vertical hydroponic/aeroponic operations. That being said, if you know of a few large commercial aquaponics producers that have been around for more than 3 years, let me know in the comments!