Nile Valley Aquaponics Aims to Bring 100,000 Pounds of Wholesome Nutrition to a Food Desert

Dre Taylor (center) giving a tour of Nile Valley Aquaponics. (Photo courtesy of Males to Men)

Dre Taylor (center in white shirt) giving a tour of Nile Valley Aquaponics. (Photo courtesy of Males to Men)

In a neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri, blighted by crime and lack of economic opportunity, a transformation is taking place. A vacant lot less than an acre in size has been cleared and a greenhouse has been built that will house a self-sustaining aquaponics system. Already growing on the property are basil, thyme, parsley, a variety of leafy greens as well as tomatoes, onions, and peppers – all using home compost and with no added chemicals.

Dre Taylor, the founder of Males to Men, is the entrepreneur behind the Nile Valley Aquaponics 100,000 Pounds Food Project that aims to bring fresh, chemical-free, healthy food to a neighborhood that is considered a food desert. When asked what led him to become an urban farmer, Taylor doesn’t hesitate, “I became an urban farmer because I wanted to be self-sufficient.” Read more

5 Innovative Urban Home Growing Systems for the Apartment Gardener

IKEA is introducing hydroponic indoor gardening kits for the urban dweller.

IKEA is introducing hydroponic indoor gardening kits for the urban dweller.

Home gardening continues to grow in popularity across the country in tow with the rise of local food movement. According to the National Gardening Association, 35% of all households in America, or 42 million households, are growing food at home or in a community garden, an increase of over 17% in the past five years. However, with 63% of the American population living in cities that comprise only 3.5% of the country’s land area, many urban apartment dwellers with growing proclivities often lack access to land on which to plant even a micro garden, and have difficulty obtaining plots in crowded and oversubscribed community gardens. Fortunately, the growing challenges of apartment-dwellers haven’t gone unnoticed by urban gardening entrepreneurs, who have created a number of innovative growing systems to help city dwellers and micro-gardeners in almost any location grow their own produce. Here’s a list of five urban home growing systems worth checking out.
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Aquaponics Startup Serves Up Rainbow Trout with Side of Veggies

Redemption Fish Company in Salem, MA is a budding aquaponics business raising fish and produce to stem the tide of collapsing fisheries in New England. Photo courtesy of Andy Davenport.

A view of one of Redemption Fish Company’s young aquaponics tanks. The Salem, MA based company is a budding aquaponics business raising fish and produce to stem the tide of collapsing fisheries in New England. Photo courtesy of Andy Davenport.

Selling seafood in New England has never been a problem. But with local fish populations collapsing, and the appetite for seafood remaining the same, providing fish to sell is becoming more dire than most people may realize.

“Living in New England, we are assailed with seafood left and right—it is a humongous part of the culture up here—and a delicious one at that,”  Redemption Fish Company co-founder Andy Davenport says. “With the constant pressure on the oceans and recent restrictions on fishing, such as the Cod populations in the Gulf of Maine, we figured we would help lighten the load and provide people a local option to [help] the hurting oceans and the current farmed fish option that’s from hundreds of miles away.”

To be clear, Davenport and his business partner Colin Davis aren’t your typical New England fisherman. They met as roommates in Cambridge, Massachusetts while Davenport was working in the biotech industry and Davis ran a farm-to-table grocery business. With their backgrounds, it may make sense that aquaponics was a natural outgrowth of their friendship. Read more

Employing Marketing and Urban Farming Acumen, Upstart Aquaponics Farm Finds Footing in Windy City

An aquaponics greenhouse is the centerpiece of Metropolitan Farms in Chicago, Illinois. (photo credit: Jeff Schear)

An aquaponics greenhouse is the centerpiece of Metropolitan Farms in Chicago, Illinois. (photo credit: Jeff Schear)

A commercial aquaponics operation that opened last October in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood is among the latest additions to a thriving urban agriculture tapestry in the Windy City.

Metropolitan Farms, operated by founder and CEO Benjamin Kant and his business partner, Eugene Shockey Funke, produces kale, lettuce, herbs and tilapia.

“I’ve always been interested in gardening and fish,” says Kant. “I saw aquaponics as a good way to urban farm.” Read more

Urban Aquaponic Farmer and Chef Orange County Adam Navidi

Profile: Urban Aquaponic Farmer and Chef Adam Navidi Redefines Local Food in Orange County

Heads of lettuce gain their sustenance through aquaponics channels at Future Foods Farms in Brea. Photo courtesy Barbie Wheatley/Future Foods Farms.

Heads of lettuce gain their sustenance through aquaponics channels at Future Foods Farms in Brea. Photo courtesy Barbie Wheatley/Future Foods Farms.

In a county named for its former abundance of orange groves, chef and farmer Adam Navidi is on the forefront of redefining local food and agriculture through his restaurant, farm, and catering business.

Navidi is executive chef of Oceans & Earth restaurant in Yorba Linda, runs Chef Adam Navidi Catering and operates Future Foods Farms in Brea, an organic aquaponic farm that comprises 25 acres and several greenhouses.

Navidi’s road to farming was shaped by one of his mentors, the late legendary chef Jean-Louis Palladin.

“Palladin said chefs would be known for their relationships with farmers,” Navidi says. Read more

OC Food System Case Study: Control Air Community Farm Utilizes Aquaponics to Grow Food for Community

aaron flora renewable farms aquaponicsOn a small patch of land nestled in between a busy street, an elementary school, and a row of houses sits a quiet farm that is making big waves in Orange County sustainability. Inside the farm you’ll find rows of arugula, basil, and other crops in raised plant beds connected to tanks of tilapia. It also uses minimal water to operate and produces over 2,000 pounds of food for underserved residents. It’s the Control Air Community Farm in Anaheim, a project of Renewable Farms. It is an aquaponics farm, a farming system that combines elements of aquaculture and hydroponics and it just might be the future of sustainable agriculture. Read more

Aaron Flora Renewable Farms Aquaponics Orange County Anaheim

Building a Megafarm in Anaheim, CA: A Q&A With Aaron Flora

Image courtesy of Renewable Farms

Image courtesy of Renewable Farms

Aaron Flora has worked on creating farms with Renewable Farms for years, but he just recently embarked on his biggest project to date, with the help of a Kickstarter campaign: a mega-aquaponics farm for the city of Anaheim, California that will double as a community training center.

Seedstock recently interviewed Flora and asked him about how Renewable Farms made the Anaheim project happen, how the mega farm will remain sustainable and what he hopes this farm will achieve in the future. Read more

Former Pro Golfer Leaves Links to Pursue Promise of Greener Urban Farming Pastures

mike-lott-urban-food-works-green-wall-urban-farmMike Lott is not your run of the mill farmer. Not long ago, before making the decision to embark on a career in farming and launch his aquaponic and urban agriculture venture, Urban Food Works in Murietta, CA, Lott was a professional golfer.

He grew up not on a farm, but in a typical southern California home. As a kid, he didn’t awake early in the morning to milk and feed cows, harvest crops, or turn the soil. Instead, he honed his golf game in anticipation of one day playing professionally. After high school Lott headed to the College of the Desert in Palm Desert not only because of its well-known golf program, but also to study Environmental Science. It was there that the seeds of Lott’s interest in and current passion for urban farming and the environment were sown. Read more

Economic Sustainability of Large-scale Aquaponics Subject of University Research

Maize High School in suburban Wichita, Kansas features an extensive hydroponics program. (photo courtesy of Jay Super/Maize High School)

Maize High School in suburban Wichita, Kansas features an extensive hydroponics program. (Photo courtesy of Jay Super/Maize High School)

Two years ago Claude Galipeault approached Georgia’s Armstrong State University Biology Department head Matthew Draud with a novel research idea: testing the economic sustainability of aquaponics.

Draud’s curiosity was piqued and he decided to visit Galipeault to check out his aquaponic system, which he had constructed in his basement.

“I quickly identified with his mission – it was focused on inventing technologies to make aquaponic systems more economically sustainable,” Draud says. “Since that meeting, I brought the idea of a collaboration to university officials, who were supportive assuming I could find the funding. I discovered that The Forum Group Charitable Foundation had funds dedicated to research into the profitability of aquaponics systems and eventually secured a $100,000 donation to support our project.” Read more

Hydroponic Farm in Alaska Combats Weather and Produce Shortfall by Growing Indoors, and Upward

Hydroponic organic lettuce from Alaska Natural Organics (ANO) Vertical Farm. Photo Courtesy of ANO.

Hydroponic organic lettuce from Alaska Natural Organics (ANO) Vertical Farm. Photo Courtesy of ANO.

The idea for Anchorage, Alaska-based hydroponic vertical farm Alaska Natural Organics was conceived when Jason Smith was working as a surveyor in the Frontier state. Smith and his wife had recently become interested in becoming healthier due to family health issues. 

“We just became a little bit more aware of what we were putting in our bodies; reading more about it. And in this process we started trying to eat healthier,” he says. The couple tried to buy organic produce of all types whenever possible.

In doing so, Smith became very aware of the high price of produce in Alaska, and the unfortunate reality that the quality of fresh produce in the state is often poor. Read more