Green Towers: Aquaponic Agriculture
Green Towers is a small-scale social business initiative. It is composed of a multidisciplinary team of students from state colleges in the United States. It all began when a student from the University of Pennsylvania, with an interest in agriculture, thought that aquaponic agriculture, a model already tested in other sites, would also serve as a good model for urban agriculture.
Aquaponics is a sustainable food production system that combines aquaculture, or the farming of aquatic animals, such as fish, crayfish and shrimp, with hydroponics, or the cultivation of plants in water. This establishes a symbiotic relationship. In aquaculture, as explained by Eric, ammonia accumulates in the water, posing a toxic threat to fish. However, in this model, water is re-directed to the hydroponics system, where it is filtered by plants that use up the excess nutrients, leaving the water ready to be re-circulated with the fish.
In addition, Green Towers believed that these systems could be created by using discarded commercial transport containers. Such containers are often cast aside when no longer in use, leading to large quantities of built-up waste and often constituting a well-known environmental problem. Dustin presented his idea to New Leaf, and laboratory tests are currently being carried out in order to implement this model in state colleges.
His business model is designed with the goal of carrying out localized agricultural production with a small ecological footprint. He hopes that his yields will serve as a food supply for local citizens, community groups, small producers and restaurants in the area. In the United States, local movements and organic produce have been gaining popularity, so much so that consumer markets for local foods are finally becoming a reality, allowing for the growth of urban agriculture.
Green Towers works towards meeting this social and urban demand by means of establishing a micro-farming network. The business model is oriented towards the objective of creating vertical aquaponic greenhouses, produced from recycled and converted transport containers. In the future, the sale of production units to citizens at an economical price is proposed, so that citizens may join in the sustainable agricultural production movement.
In a way, this business model reminds me of the Catalan composting business, Compostadores. I met its founder, Eugeni Castejón, in one of the first reunions of the Global Eco Forum, organized by Eco-Unión. At the time, I was young enough that I didn’t have much to talk about in terms of my experiences in sustainability, which were based on a few years of college and volunteering in several organizations. I remember thinking that these composters had a great future, and I was happy to learn about this fantastic form of innovation. Eugeni wanted to promote the use of compost in the city, just like Green Towers wants to promote local and ecological agriculture.
We visited Green Towers along with New Leaf and Co.space and made a video about the three initiatives. To see the part on Green Towers, go to minute 3:05 of the video.
See the pictures of this project bellow:
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