Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Finding A Fishy Solution

There’s something fishy going on at Baltimore’s Cylburn Arboretum, and the results could be delicious—and sustainable.
Earlier this summer, David Love, a microbiologist and project director with the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, began work on a demonstration aquaponics farm housed in a greenhouse at Cylburn, a nature preserve located in north-central Baltimore.
Aquaponics, a relatively new and unknown sustainable food production system, is the merger of aquaculture, or fish farming, and hydroponics, soil-less plant farming. The system utilizes fish wastewater as a resource by circulating it through hydroponic grow beds, where plants uptake the waste as their primary nutrient source. In the system, a symbiotic relationship is formed between fish and plants, with fish providing most of the required nutrients for the plants, and the plants in turn cleaning the water for the fish.
Love, an assistant scientist with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences, set out to determine whether aquaponics is a sustainable form of urban agriculture that can be replicated on a larger scale. He thought, Why not have Baltimore be a testing ground?
“I wanted to get folks in Baltimore excited about alternative urban farming ideas,” Love said. “Urban farming is really taking off in Baltimore; you just have to look at the corner lots and odd spaces that people are using to grow food.”
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