Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Reclaimed shipping container produces sustainable fish

London-based organisation Grow Up has unveiled a new project in Southwark, London. Utlilising a piece of land as small as a single parking space, the project will produce sustainable vegetables and fish.

Housed in a reclaimed shipping container, the Grow Up Box is a two-tiered operation, growing Tilapia (an omnivorous white fish) on the lower level with a greenhouse on top for salad greens and herbs.

The small urban farm works by using aquaponics - a closed-loop farming method that combines hydroponics and aquaculture. The nutrient-rich waste water from the fish tanks fertilises the plants which, in turn, purifies the water pumped back into the fish tank below.

Once set up, the only inputs into the system are vegetarian fish food and energy for the water and oxygen pumps.  Feeding fish on a vegetarian protein diet is a desirable alternative to feeding farmed fish on unsustainable wild fish fry sources. Since water is fed directly to the plant roots and then recirculated to the fish tanks, the system uses considerably less water than traditional agricultural systems.

The Grow Up Box model is estimated to produce as much as 60 kilograms (more than 130 pounds) of fish each year. 60 kilograms of whole Tilapia is sufficient for 2-3 people to enjoy one fish per week for a year.

An exciting development in the arena of microfarming, the GrowUp Box inspires new ways for urban communities to localise the production of fresh, sustainable and healthy food, as well as combine farming, retail sales and/or restaurant production in hybrid and potentially transportable hub networks.

The project is designed and operated by farming entrepreneurs Kate Hofman and Tom Webster and is funded thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Southwark Bridge, London
Southwark Bridge, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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