Kale seedlings - Copyrights: Mandy Zammit

Aquaponic farms set out to conquer the cities!

Posted on 25 June 2015.

The GrowUp Box is a demonstration unit showing how aquaponics can be used in an urban environment. This unusual container produces vegetables, herbs… and fish!

Enjoying a boom. A closed, sustainable ecosystem, it is a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture.

Urban agriculture offers fertile ground for sustainable urban development and fulfils several needs: getting city dwellers closer to food resources, producing sustainably, and maximizing space. Aquaponics is now the method of choice. A sustainable self-contained ecosystem, it is a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture. In simple terms, it combines freshwater fish farming with growing crops in a closed system: fish excrement is transformed into nutrients that are assimilated by the plants which, in turn, purify the water for the fish. The key to natural food production - salads, vegetables, herbs- as well as fish! There are significant water savings because it is filtered and reused. Compared to conventional methods of production savings of this precious natural resource are around 90%.

Aquaponics appeals to cities worldwide

This both economical and ecological solution is appealing to more and more cities. Berlin, Abu Dhabi, Chicago, Vancouver and Honolulu have already tried it. In France in March 2015, the APIVA project brought together various agricultural sector stakeholders in order to classify aquaponic systems. In the US, FarmedHere, created in 2011 in Illinois, is a leader in the field, with nearly 9,000 square meters under production!

GrowUp Box: a commercial aquaponic farm

GrowUp Urban Farms in London, a start-up founded in 2013 by Kate Hofman and Tom Webster, went further with its GrowUp Box. Set up in a container on a disused roof in Stratford, east London, it supplies restaurants, local bars and even supermarkets with fresh produce. The idea behind GrowUp Box, which is open to the public until September, is also to regenerate brownfield sites and act as a teaching aid for organizations and schools. It provides the opportunity to discover a form of natural urban agriculture that reduces the energy footprint and which, by favoring local production, reduces transportation-related CO2 emissions.