Aquaponics Startup Revolutionizes Farming in Pittsburgh’s Backyards and Around the World

Photo courtesy of Colleen Beck.

Photo courtesy of Colleen Beck.

Through her work in international development, Colleen Beck witnessed how people utilize water to grow food around the globe in Kenya, China and Thailand.

Returning to Pennsylvania, she was asked to research an aquaponics system for the faith-based NGO,  MTEC International, which does international mission work. After creating two custom systems, she decided to launch Seed Aquaponics LLC in December 2014 and take the business global, seeing aquaponic farming as an “obvious solution” to managing water use in agriculture.

Beck says that she was drawn to aquaponic farming because of the efficiency of the practice. Food can be grown twice as fast as conventional methods, using 90 percent less water. By nature, aquaponic farming is also organic. Any chemicals in the water would kill the fish, not to mention the systems eliminate the risk of water contamination from sewage, floods or runoff. Read more

Solutions Farms Combats Family Homelessness with Aquaponics Training in Vista, CA

Photo courtesy of Solutions for Change.

Photo courtesy of Solutions for Change.

In addressing homelessness with an aquaponics training program, Solutions Farms provides an opportunity for families to regain not only their financial footing and place in the community, but also their security and happiness. Solution Farms is a program that was created by Solutions for Change, a Vista, California-based nonprofit established in 1999 to address local family homelessness in innovative ways.

Kevin Gorham is the aquaponics specialist at Solution Farms. He came to the initiative with little experience, but plenty of enthusiasm.

“I heard about this place being built, so I drove over here and introduced myself. I just kept bothering them and telling them I’d like a job here. Once the system was up and going, they hired me to stay on and help manage and run it,” says Gorham. “I learned a lot more through my hands-on experience working here over the last three years.” Read more

Fish Atop a City Rooftop in Brooklyn Power Farming Startup

 VertiCulture’s Founders left to right: Miles Crettien, Ryan Morningstar, Jacob Hill, Peter Spartos. Courtesy of Ryan Morningstar.

VertiCulture’s Founders left to right: Miles Crettien, Ryan Morningstar, Jacob Hill, Peter Spartos. Courtesy of Ryan Morningstar.

On top of a former Pfizer building in Downtown Brooklyn fish and produce grow together in a symbiotic system. The rooftop venture VertiCulture Farms, established in 2012, is an indoor aquaponic farm that offers fresh produce and fish to the surrounding area through several sales channels. The founders hope their rooftop farm model will illustrate the potential of aquaponics in cities.

“We’d heard about hydroponics and aquaponics before, and thought we’d give it a shot,” says Ryan Morningstar, one of the cofounders of the startup based in Brooklyn, New York.  “We set up a small installation on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Exchange Building in downtown Brooklyn with recycled materials. We put a system together, got some tilapia and we saw that it worked.” Read more

With Roots in Soilless Growing and Desire to Promote Health, Couple Sets Sights on Aquaponics Operation

Ruth and Noah Smucker are seen next to a small aquaponics system inside their home in Goshen, Indiana. They plan to install a larger enclosed aquaponics system in their yard, with their eyes on even further expansion. (photo courtesy of Noah and Ruth Smucker)

Ruth and Noah Smucker are seen next to a small aquaponics system inside their home in Goshen, Indiana. They plan to install a larger enclosed aquaponics system in their yard, with their eyes on even further expansion. (Photo courtesy of Noah and Ruth Smucker)

An aquaponics operation is coming to Goshen, Indiana, a town in the northern part of the state already rich with farms and a culture of local food.

Given the name High Water Mark by its founders, husband and wife Noah and Ruth Smucker, the aquaponics farm will be a source of organic produce.

Aquaponics combines hydroponics with the raising of fish, so plants and fish sustain each other.

Currently, the Smuckers have a small aquaponics system upstairs in their house, but what they plan to do is tear down their garage and build a 700-square-foot greenhouse in its place. They hope to have this completed later this year. Read more

Buffalo’s Vertical Fresh Farms Aims for Big Production in a Small Footprint

Photo courtesy of Vertical Fresh Farms

Photo courtesy of Vertical Fresh Farms

Vertical Fresh Farms is a small aquaponic operation in Buffalo, New York. How small? The vertical farm is small enough to fit into owner Jeremy Witt’s garage.

That’s all by design. Witt and Matt Latham, the farm’s other co-owner, planned Vertical Fresh Farms’ small but sustainable layout.

From 2011 until spring of 2014, Latham and Witt intensely researched aquaponics to figure out how they could afford to build their own farm.

“Last year, we finally decided that we would start small and started out with a prototype,” Witt says. The prototype takes up an area that’s about 250 square feet. Read more

Wisconsin Public-Private Partnership Builds New Aquaponics Innovation Center

Replication Systems of the UWSP-Aquaponics Innovation Center

Replication Systems of the UWSP-Aquaponics Innovation Center | Courtesy UWSP-Aquaponics Innovation Center

A new Aquaponics Innovation Center (AIC) in Montello, Wisconsin is the result of a public-private partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) and Nelson and Pade, Inc.

The facility is designed to provide a space for aquaponics research and education. Construction on the 4,800 square foot space started in August 2014 and finished in early 2015. Faculty, students, and staff will use the AIC’s six separate aquaponic systems to conduct research. Read more

10 High School Hydroponics and Aquaponics Programs Bring Sustainable Ag into the Classroom

Hydroponics and aquaponics are an important part of sustainable agriculture, especially in space-scarce urban areas. Numerous high schools recognize the bright future of hydroponics and aquaponics, and as a result include it as part of their curriculum.  Here is a sampling of those across the nation:

Singapore Urban Farm Design Looks to Engage Active Seniors

Courtesy of SPARK Home Farm

Courtesy of SPARK Home Farm

by Christa Avampato

A new paradigm for senior living is rising in famously lavish Singapore—one in which baby boomers can age in a comfortable environment that aids their mental and physical wellbeing through growing their own food.

Imagine a senior living environment based on the hanging gardens of Babylon — a place rich with lush vegetation and beauty of mythic proportions, but in a way that doesn’t place any additional strain on a city’s budget. In fact, it could be crafted as a way to grow the local economy. Read more

New York City’s Edenworks Advances Urban Aquaponics with Custom Ecosystems

Edenworks Farmstacks are customized for the crop they support. (photo courtesy of Jason Green/Edenworks)

Edenworks Farmstacks are customized for the crop they support. (photo courtesy of Jason Green/Edenworks)

New York City resident Jason Green wanted good local produce available in his city on a year-round basis. Concluding that other New Yorkers wanted the same thing, he addressed this insufficiency with aquaponics.

Desiring a more intimate relationship with food, Green was already gardening in his apartment window box. But in order to grow local produce year-round in New York City, he knew that a new sort of infrastructure was needed.

So Green, along with co-founders Ben Silverman and Matt La Rosa, founded Edenworks, which utilizes vertically-terraced, closed loop, modular aquaponic ecosystems. Read more

New Mexico Black Chamber of Commerce Chairman Leads Way on Aquaponics for Food Security

(photo courtesy of Michael McNair/New Mexico Aquaponics Association)

(photo courtesy of Michael McNair/New Mexico Aquaponics Association)

After New Mexico Black Chamber of Commerce chairman Michael McNair investigated why some black farmers in the state experienced water shortages, he learned about aquaponics from watching videos on YouTube.

In a moment of epiphany, he realized that aquaponics would work not only for these farmers, but for the entire state of New Mexico. Since, he has become president of the New Mexico Aquaponics Association, and helped spearhead New Mexico House Bill 201, which adds tilapia and hybrid striped bass to the list of fish regulated by the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish. Read more