Rooting DC this Saturday!

Who: Everyone
What: Rooting DC Urban Agriculture Expo
When: Saturday, March 3, 9:00am – 4:00pm
Where: Wilson HS, 3950 Chesapeake St NW, Washington, DC
Why: Sustaining a happy life on Earth!
Price: FREE

Anacostia Aquaponics will have our Hootie 2.0 Indoor Aquaponic System set up and running in the Vendor Showroom, goldfish and all. [Barring any technical catastrophes]

Anacostia Aquaponics Director Brian Filipowich will present “Aquaponics in Washington DC” at 10:00am in Room 205. There are many many GREAT presentations all day long! See Rooting DC Schedule

It’s always a great time, and there’s lots of foodtrucks, hope to see you there!

The Great Pizza Aquaponic Challenge

Last week we challenged the IDEA PCS garden club students:

If you can move this entire aquaponic system upstairs to the green room during your 1-hour lunch break, we upgrade to pizza for lunch next week. By the way: all the fish have to survive the move; the system has to be back up and running; and you have to move all the water too (we wouldn’t want to shock our bacteria with new water!)

The students succeeded, great teamwork.

Now onto the next goal: grow $200 of produce with this same aquaponic system by the end of the school year… we’re gonna need some bigger fishies than these goldfish, not to be koi 😉  [foreshadowing]

 

Aquaponic Stringbean

The Hootie 1.0 Indoor Aquaponic System was able to grow a string bean with only about 100 grams of ornamental goldfish powering the train.

 

This string bean was just a test to see if we could grow a decent fruiting vegetable with this 29-gallon system. (Fruiting plants like string beans require more nutrients and are generally harder to grow well). Ultimately, this system is best suited to grow seven or eight quick-growing herbs and lettuces at a time because of the small-ish fish tank and wide media growbed.

 

 

We were happy to see that – despite its diminutive size – it was a crunchy and tasty little bean!

The Hootie 2.0 Indoor Aquaponic System is equipped with lighting and improved water circulation. Once that system gets to decent fish capacity maybe we’ll try another fruiting veggie… any requests?

Drum Filter Fun with Tavon and Bill

Here are some pics from a few months ago of Tavon and Bill performing drum filter maintenance on one of UDC’s aquaponic systems.

A drum filter allows an aquaponic system to divert solid fish waste to a separate tank. In this separate tank the fish waste is able to safely break down and gradually release the bound-up nutrients back into the system.

Fish tank water enters into the center of the drum and must pass through the screen mesh to outside the drum. All solid waste larger than 100 microns is trapped within the drum.

A sensor detects when the drum is to capacity with waste. The drum starts to spin rapidly. Four spray nozzles (which we see Tavon installing below) spray the solid waste off the mesh and flush it to the solids-diversion tank.

Differences of opinion exist within the aquaponics community whether it’s better to break down the solid fish waste aerobically or anaerobically (with or without oxygen). Each process involves a different set of bacteria and different costs and benefits. We shall see how the debate evolves…

Eating Fresh Backyard Fish in NE DC!

Here are two pics from our backyard aquaponic harvest event last month.

Above, Scott is pictured “cleaning” fish we just harvested from his 270 “IBC-tote” fish tank. We ate bullhead catfish, bluegill, and trout.

Below is the finished product, the bluegill were the tastiest! We also ate Baba Ganoush made from eggplants grown in the same aquaponic system; meaning that the eggplants were fertilized from the waste of the very same fish pictured below!

Wow, what a useful ecosystem!!! Here’s a link to his forum thread for more info: Scott’s aquaponic forum thread.

2 Dans Toiling at Twilight; Thankfulness

Dan and Dan were recently improving the insulation on one of Cultivate the City‘s rooftop greenhouses ahead of the winter.

This greenhouse hosts a hydroponic system with 25 vertical zipgrow towers; stacked-pot drip-line vertical hydroponic systems; and an aquaponic system we will be overhauling in the months ahead.

Controlled environment agriculture gives us the ability to produce food in the middle of Washington, DC in the middle of winter — as opposed to shipping all of our fresh produce thousands of miles for half the year. And vertical growing gives us the ability to produce large quantities of food relative to square land area.

The problem: our nation’s economic structure. We do not charge the true cost of carbon. Big companies have an implicit subsidy to use as much carbon as they want to get their food here from across the planet and compete against efficient local growers. Sad.

So this year I’m thankful for Dan, Dan, and the rest of the Washington, DC urban agriculture community!

Hydroponics at Anacostia Highschool

Jajuan and Ms. Mus just finished setting up this hydroponic system at Anacostia Highschool.

They plan to stock the top grow bed with small pots filled with hydroton clay media (pictured in the buckets below). They also plan to feed the plants with liquid hydroponic nutrients.

We’ll check in with them in a few months to see how it’s going. Maybe we’ll even get an aquaponic system going! 😉

DC Food Recovery Week Events

October 21 – 28 is Food Recovery Week in Washington, DC. Check out a full list of events at dcfoodrecovery.org.

Anacostia Aquaponics is hosting two events in conjunction.

Backyard Aquaponic Fish Harvest, Clean & Cook
October 26, 5:30 – 7:30pm

Worms and Coffee
October 28, 9:00 – 11:30am

OK, vermicomposting makes sense, but what does a fish harvest have to do with food waste & recovery?

In honor of DC food recovery week we are going to bokashi compost the fish guts. The fish guts and skeletons are extremely rich with nutrients that plants need. There is no reason to send these nutrients hundreds of miles to a landfill to rot. Instead, we can use compost methods to transform and re-use these nutrients right here in our own city. (and on a large scale this will create many JOBS).

Aquaponics can also stem the problem of food waste by providing vegetables to urban and arid areas without crop spoilage during transport.

Our nation wastes thousands of tons of vegetables each year due to spoilage during transport. Contrast this with Scott’s aquaponic system where we’re hosting this event. In the warm months Scott grows an entire salad a day for his entire family that can be harvested the same day they eat it; if we all grew hyper-local like Scott there would be a LOT LESS FOOD WASTE!