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! 😉

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.

Checkout Scott’s Backyard System in NE DC!

scotts system

Scott has been running this system in his backyard in NE DC for over two years. Below is the fishtank, a submerged IBC Tote with cover. Scott estimates he has about 10 Bullhead Catfish and over 50 Blue Gill, some of which have been here almost three years! He and his family have eaten about 15 of their own fish grown in their own DC backyard… Gnarly! (He says the Blue Gill are much tastier.)

Up top is the grow bed. Scott estimates that during the warmer months it produces about a salad a day for his family. Wow, great numbers. And he uses rainwater from his roof, very environmentally friendly! (and lower pH)

As pictured, the system is operating under the tarp for winter. It expands out during the rest of the year, and Scott is continually adding growbeds.

Here’s a link to his forum thread in case you are interested in more info: Scott’s aquaponic forum thread.