A couple of weeks ago I was lucky to attend an AgroTech event here in NYC. I learned a lot about the ways innovative new technologies are changing the food industry and producing crops more sustainably. Funny enough, I also learned about what's going on in some of those abandoned buildings being repurposed in Bushwick.
On one of my favorite panels, the guys from Edenworks were talking about their experience growing indoor aquaponic vegetables over in Bushwick all year round! The thought of delicious, fresh, local micro-greens and veggies got me super excited so I had to pay them a visit.
What is Aquaponics? Aquaponics is defined as a system of agriculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically which in turn purify the water so the fish can thrive. A simple closed-loop system to explain, but complex to take care of in order to harvest tasty crops all year long.
We met with Debi at Edenworks and she was able to answer all of our questions about the fish, veggies and the uniqueness of running a farm in the heart of Brooklyn.
As we toured the farm, Debi told us all about the work her and her team are doing to create a highly-controlled sustainable ecosystem and grow chemical-free, non-GMO, “beyond organic” crops. I consider these crops beyond organic because of the amazing whole systems approach. Growing without soil makes it very difficult to obtain organic certification as a hydroponic farmer.
Their setup is a series of tanks where one holds fish and two others have natural filtering systems for their brew/plant nutrient mixture. The fish are given an organic fish and plant based feed. As they produce waste, it is filtered from the tanks where it is brewed and balanced into nutrients that are specially stabilized for each individual crop. The greens are grown in a hydroponic mixture of coco coir and vermiculite which supports the roots and traps the moisture. The all natural ingredients, carefully sourced non-GMO seeds and rich nutrient dense fish waste produce crops with dynamic bold flavors.
The coolest thing about this farm is that they are always looking for new ways to grow environmentally sustainable crops. At the moment they are using foam as their potting system but are looking into using foam collars made of mushroom as soon as they become available to the public. They are excited to try anything that supports our community of farmers and artisans to help our ecosystem.
If you want to get a taste of their delicious micro-greens, you can try them through Sakara Life or Maple. They have plans to expand, grow more veggies and keep feeding our healthy minds. Look for at Whole Foods and I hope to see them at my favorite local food store as well.
Writen by Vanessa Upegui
Photograph by Megan Martin