Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why I'm actually doing this: Part 2 - Aquaponics

While I was researching the life associated with Tiny Homes, I came across the Windowfarms Project, a New York City-based initiative to encourage urban dwellers to grow some of their own food inside year-round. And I came across Backyard Aquaponics, an Australian website/magazine talking about the combination of hydroponics (soil-less gardening) and aquaculture (fish farming). Other Australian resources are ecofilms Australia, and Murray Hallam's great website.

So cool. Makes me want to move to Australia.

Why is aquaponics trendy in Australia? It started with this 2006 TV spot of Joel Malcolm in his backyard aquaponic garden:

Since I don't have a suitable backyard for an outdoor system (townhome covenants...) and I didn't yet have space for a substantial indoor system (300 boxes, remember?) I began dabbling in aquaponic windowfarms. Below is a video from July 14th, showing my daughter's windowfarm fed by a fish tank and a simple raft aquaponics system:

Fun though it is to have a window full of green stuff, it doesn't come close to providing a substantial portion of the family diet. Plus the system isn't robust - my modifications to include fish in the basic windowfarm design sometimes gets clogged. The fish are still alive, but plants in an aquaponic system don't do too well when they're left dry for a few days (business trips...).

So I dream of the time when I have enough free space to have the lowest level of my townhome free of random junk and instead have a nice garden [along with a nice guest space and laundry/utility/storage].

So there it is. After years of could-have-would-have-should-have self-flagellation, it took the dream of aquaponics to get me going.

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