UDC Urban Food Hub Aquaponic Systems

Here swim tilapia in the Bertie Backus Urban Food Hub aquaponic system in Northeast Washington, DC. These tilapia are about 6 inches long and reside in one of the six 650-gallon tanks at the Backus system.

The water is very clear due to the use of a 100 micron “drum filter” and 50 micron “tank filter”.

Bertie Backus is one of four Urban Food Hubs constructed and operated by the University of the District of Columbia. UDC also operates aquaponic systems at the Van Ness, P.R. Harris College, and East Capitol Urban Farm food hubs.

The Van Ness aquaponic system was started earliest of the four. We first stocked fish in April, 2017. It’s been successfully growing basil, lettuces, and tomatoes with fish food as the ONLY nutritional input for about 6 months now. After working out initial kinks, water quality parameters are consistently excellent and the fish grow about an inch per month.

Anacostia Aquaponics worked with UDC during the initiation process of these systems from March through September, 2017. It was a great learning experience.

With appropriate management and resources, UDC’s Urban Food Hub aquaponic systems should continually improve and grow lots of fresh, healthy food for Washington, DC residents.

Chat at Iona Senior Services in NW DC

We had a great discussion at Iona Senior Services this week about aquaponics and our new Hootie 2.0 Aquaponic System.

The Hootie 2.0 has been running for a few months and has been growing lots of parsely and watercress (startin’ easy, ya know?) This week we added 4 bigger goldfish so it’s time to graduate to basil and some denser greens, ahhh milestones….

The fish all have names, the parsely is used in group meals, and the residents enjoy feeding the fish. We’re going to work with the chef to figure out how to use the watercress.

Residents and staff asked many great questions about how an aquaponic system functions, and how aquaponics will fit in our evolving food system.

More learning and growing in our future 🙂

 

 

Aquaponics Association Conference Schedule

The Aquaponics Association has released its tentative schedule for the Putting Down Roots conference November 3-5 in Portland, Oregon.

The conference will feature a rural aquaponic tour, an urban aquaponic tour, and three full days of aquaponics lessons and interactive discussions with experts from around the world.

Click here to see the line-up:
Putting Down Roots Conference Schedule

Global Aquaponic Systems in Silver Spring, MD

This past Saturday, July 22, Global Aquaponic Systems in Silver Spring, MD held an open house with tours from 12 to 5pm.

On the left we see a trough with some yummy duckweed… a great nutrition supplement for fish.

Global Aquaponic has many beautiful, large striped koi driving their plant growth. The greenhouse is large, and grows produce for local sales.

Read more at their website, or set up a tour of your own!

Urban Organics and Pentair Open 2nd Large-Scale Aquaponic Farm

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Urban Organics and Pentair just opened one of the largest commercial aquaponic farms in the world in St. Paul Minnesota.

Urban Organics will use Pentair’s advanced pumps, filters, aerators, mineralization systems and more to raise 275,000 pounds of Atlantic salmon and arctic char fish each year. About 475,000 pounds of organic greens including kale, bok choy and arugula also will be produced.

Read full article: http://www.startribune.com/pentair-urban-organics-open-aquaponics-farm-in-old-schmidt-brewery/426048003/

By Star Tribune
Photo credit: ELIZABETH FLORES, STAR TRIBUNE

 

Going Vertical with Evan Bromfield

By Evan Bromfield
Look, I’m not interested in hopping on the vertical farming hype train. I’m interested in farming effectively and cheaply. And I think I’ve found the winning recipe.

I run the proof of concept vertical hydroponics farm Rosemont Horticultural located right outside DC. We provide chefs who want to differentiate their menus with year-round, affordable, exquisite crops grown with no environmental waste.

The entire farm is designed with the idea of closed-loop production, something extremely familiar to regenerative and aquaponics farmers, but a concept that’s oddly missing from most vertical farms. So what we do, unlike most aquaponic and hydroponic systems, is compost literally everything besides the system-infrastructure (no net pots, no rockwool) for future re-use. You read that right. We’re using compost in our hydroponics system.

We start our seeds in fast-draining compost plugs and within a few weeks, transfer them to the full recirculating shallow water culture system. Introducing soil and choosing a shallow water culture (similar to a deep water culture system) over something like NFT means we have a much higher biological buffer. This means that as nutrients, pH, and other variables fluctuate in our system, our plants are better able to continue thriving.

While that’s just one example, the whole system is designed for simplicity, ease of use, minimizing failure points (mechanical timers versus digital, reducing moving parts, etc.), and resilience. This reduces our labor costs, and because we are re-circulating our inputs, production costs are lowered too. This lets us focus on our primary directive: selling food effectively.

Remember, we’re just testing this out. We started with a run-down garage and transformed that into a farm that’s sold out to local restaurants and distributors since we started. It’s been great and I can’t wait to scale.

Evan Bromfield has been involved with vertical farming for 3 years with experiences in the industry ranging from private consulting to publicly funded urban agricultural development. In addition to his own vertical hydroponics farm, he also runs the Urban Vertical Farming Project, one of the few dedicated websites covering vertical farming, to teach others about the industry. Recently, he worked with the global Association for Vertical Farming to examine international biopharmaceutical production to help write and publish the most comprehensive industry white paper to-date, “The State of Vertical Farming.” Sign up for his free email list to learn more.

The Soil Food Web in Aquaponics

AQP Association Fact Sheet – The Soil Food Web

This document explains how aquaponic systems utilize the Soil Food Web to produce healthy crops – despite the lack of soil.

Our food system is rapidly changing due to the convergence of pressing global issues including climate change; environmental degradation; water depletion; economic insecurity; health problems due to poor diets and pollution; and rapid population growth and urbanization.

As we shape our new food system, one critical consideration is whether we retain access to high quality fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly those grown sustainably.

This document shows that aquaponics can deliver fresh fruits and vegetables grown from seed, with the same symbiotic biological processes used by plants since the dawn of time. Check it out!

http://aquaponicsassociation.org/s/AQP-Association-Fact-Sheet-The-Soil-Food-Web.pdf