Farm Bill creates Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production

The recently-passed U.S. Farm Bill creates the USDA Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production which should boost aquaponics, hydroponics, and other sustainable growing methods.

The Bill establishes the Office “to encourage and promote urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production practices.” Related to this new Office, the Bill:

  • Provides for the assignment of a farm number for rooftop, indoor, and other urban farms.
  • Provides authority to award competitive grants to operate community gardens or
    nonprofit farms, educate a community on food systems, nutrition, environmental impacts,
    and agricultural production, and help offset start-up costs for new and beginning farmers.
  • Establishes an Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Advisory Committee.
  • Establishes pilot projects to increase compost and reduce food waste, and create urban
    and suburban county committees.

In addition to the Office for Urban Agriculture, the Farm Bill also establishes the Urban, Indoor, and Other Emerging Agriculture Production Research, Education, and Extension Initiative. This Initiative does the following:

  • Authorizes competitive research and extension grants to support research, education, and
    extension activities for the purposes of enhancing urban, indoor, and other emerging
    agricultural production.
  • Provides $4 million mandatory for each fiscal year 2019-2023.
  • Requires the Secretary to conduct a census of urban, indoor, and other emerging
    agricultural production.

Unfortunately, there is plenty of bad along with the good: this Farm Bill continues negative policies that stifle smaller growers and wastefully support large industrial monoculture growers. Nevertheless, it is welcome to see the Federal Government acknowledging the need for investment in urban and sustainable growing.

Will these government initiatives improve urban agriculture in Washington, DC?

How can the DC Urban Ag community make the most of this opportunity?

Are you interested in being part of the revolution in urban agriculture? Anacostia Aquaponics is looking for 2019 Team Members / Interns. Learn more: http://anacostiaaquaponics.org/2019-team-member-opportunities/

Vertical Hydroponic Grow Systems in Downtown DC

We recently worked on planting and harvesting vertical hydroponic systems at the new Fannie Mae office building in downtown, DC.

These systems make the best use of space by stacking hydroponic shelves vertically. All four levels are connecting to one common reservoir, which is directly connected to the DC water system.

The hydroponic system is from the Urban Cultivator. Pictured here is Niraj Ray from Cultivate the City.

Are you interested in being part of the revolution in urban agriculture? Anacostia Aquaponics is looking for 2019 Team Members / Interns. Learn more: http://anacostiaaquaponics.org/2019-team-member-opportunities/

Pollinator Garden Presentation & Award for IDEA PCS

Last week students from the IDEA Public Charter School Garden Club presented the plan to turn a school parking lot into a pollinator garden. The pollinator garden will prevent city water from flowing into the Anacostia River. William explained that the students want to be able to swim by Kingman Island on the River, but currently the water isn’t clean enough.

Chris explained how a pollinator garden improves the watershed by spreading more plants in the neighborhood that serve as a filter to dirty street water flowing into the river.

Local DC coyote fur!

Jared, Chris and William won $400 for their presentation!

We told the bus driver to head straight to the casino with our big ol’ check!

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!

Mayor Bowser Signs the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact

 

Today, January 25, Mayor Bowser will announce that the District and other American cities will sign on to the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP), a cooperative international agreement to improve food and sustainability in cities all over the world. Mayor Bowser will sign on to the Pact to “build a more sustainable and equitable food system, shaping future patterns of food production and consumption in the District and America.”

Learn more: Milan Urban Food Policy Pact

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!

NOSB Gives Organic Aquaponics the GREEN Light!

From the Aquaponics Association-
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted 8 to 7 last week to reject proposals that would have banned aquaponics and hydroponics from organic eligibility. The Board did vote to ban aeroponics.

The Aquaponics Association applauds the NOSB’s decision. Aquaponics embodies exactly what consumers expect in their organic produce:

  1. No synthetic pesticides or chemicals;
  2. Resource-efficient and planet-friendly; and
  3. A thriving, diverse microbial root ecosystem.

The NOSB’s decision will usher in a host of benefits to our food system. Aquaponics gives us the ability to eat fresh, local produce even in dense urban areas and arid climates. The organic label will allow commercial aquaponic growers to supply retailers the most local organic food possible.

Aquaponics employs closed-loop, recirculating systems of fish and plants. These systems use over 90% less water than soil farming; do not emit harmful agriculture discharge; and use the minimum resources necessary to grow vibrant, healthy crops.

For consumers, the NOSB’s decision will lead to more accessible, affordable produce as more aquaponic growers enter the organic market. Aquaponics will also foster local economic growth with year-round food production jobs that can never be outsourced.

In short, the NOSB’s decision is a big WIN for our environment, our health, and our economy.