Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fish grown in a Shipping Container?

Would You Eat Fish Grown in a Shipping Container?

It's no secret that we're somewhat obsessed with shipping containers. They can be used to create housing, public art pieces and even retail stores. But now, they may be the answer to providing sustainable farming methods to London's urban inhabitants. 
GrowUp is a two-person operation started by sustainable farming enthusiasts Kate Hofman and Tom Webster. Their goal is to construct an eco-friendly means of farming fresh fish and vegetables that can be easily replicated in their congested urban environment—including spaces like driveways, parking lots and alleyways. In order to accomplish that, they're utilizing a system that remains narrow and compact.
The GrowUp Box is constructed from a recycled shipping container, which serves as the vessel for the cultivation of organic fish like tilapia and trout. A greenhouse stacked on top grows vegetables. And all of this food production occurs without the use of any soil, fertilizer, antibiotics or pesticides. How? Through the magic of aquaponics.

Aquaponics are a closed-loop scheme that uses a series of pumps to recirculate the water from fish to plants and back again; nutrient dense waste-water produced by the fish is distilled into a fertilizing water for the plants. The plants in turn purify the runoff and pump it back into fresh water for the fish below. As far as input, the GrowUp Box only requires fish food and energy to run the pumps.
While water is utilized, little is wasted because the system is set up to distribute it along the roots of the plants, not onto leaves where it could evaporate. And because the fish are grown in spacious tanks with unheated water, energy is conserved and the fish can thrive in a low stress environment.
But the benefits of GrowUp and similar urban farming systems extend to the city at large. Unlike traditional agriculture, they don't rely on transportation, refrigeration or plastic packaging. Equally as important is that it guarantees the absence of additives and preservatives used to keep fish artificially fresh over long stretches of transport.
GrowUp recently completed its first successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of their first box, which Hofman and Webster plan to unveil at the Chelsea Fringe Festival this May.
UrbanFarmers, an organization in Switzerland, were the originators of the shipping container/greenhouse design, which they're using to further sustainable farming efforts in their home country.
An example of UrbanFarmers' own shipping container and greenhouse box. (Photo: UrbanFarmers)
Hofman and Webster want to bring UrbanFarmers' idea to the UK and so received a helping of consultation from the group. Together, their goal is to drastically alter the global food system, disrupting our usual methods of growing expensive, artificially-enhanced food by destroying the environment.
UrbanFarmers and GrowUp are among an ever-lengthening list of complementary projects with the same aim. China is quickly adopting rooftop farms as its citizens attempt to escape a calamitous and unregulated food system; Singapore recently adopted its first hydroponic vertical farm after tiring of importing almost 90 percent of its vegetables; and stateside, vertical fish farms are cropping up as a means of not only providing food, but cleansing our polluted waterways.
What’s perhaps most encouraging about this movement is that it shakes up the traditional food model that keeps the public blissfully unaware of foods’ origins or consequences. Urban farming instead empowers consumers to make smarter choices, either by giving them purchasing access to locally-harvested products, or teaching them how to get their hands dirty in order to grow their own.
How do you grow your own food when space is scarce? Share your stories in the Comments.
Recent articles from TakePart:
• Urban Farming Pioneer Will Allen is Leading a Food Revolution
• The Next Epicenter of Sustainable, Organic Farming is...China?
• ‘If You Ain’t a Gardener, You Ain’t Gangster’ (VIDEO)

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Theoretically this might be a good idea. However, if it gets too cold for the fish or they are hunted by local cats or rats this could be a problem. Also, what are shipping containers made out of? Is it aluminum which might contaminate them or with steel that might rust over time? So, this is something that likely should be thought of too. However, I like the idea of recycling water and fish waste to fertilize veggies that are grown in an urban environment. As long as things in an urban environment like rats, mosquitos, homeless people etc. don't pollute the fish growing environment in some way it likely is a good idea.

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