Urban Aqua Farms

Our indoor Urban Aqua Farms will provide year-round, high quality, affordable fresh water fish and vegetables to food insecure individuals and families in the community. Aquaponics is the symbiotic relationship of freshwater fish, plants, and bacteria growing together in a recirculating ecosystem. In this system, the bacteria convert toxic fish waste into plant food (nitrates) while the plants filter toxins for the fish. Fish are raised in a tank (at a humane ratio of 1 fish per 2-5 gallons of water); water is pumped from the fish tank into a soil-less plant growing area; bacteria convert accumulated fish waste (toxic for fish in large quantities) into plant food; plants absorb the nitrified fish waste; water is constantly being filtered by plant roots to keep it clean; and the cycle repeats indefinitely. The Urban Aqua Farms harvest will supplement the healthy food supply for NEBHDCo’s Golden Harvest Client Choice Food Pantry which feeds 19,000 people each year. Our aquaponics farm is a natural bridge between and expansion of our Golden Harvest Client Choice Pantry and Communities for Healthy Food Bed-Stuy initiative. Our goal is to use the Urban Aqua Farms, not only to source the pantry, but also to provide a model for producing sustainable, fresh, healthy food in an urban setting. More importantly, through workshops and training we will educate the community, provide living wage farm jobs and also show potential entrepreneurial opportunities. The Urban Aqua Farms will:
  • Yield 4,000 pounds of produce and 350 pounds of fish in the first year.
  • Develop and implement weekly workshops in aquaponics farming for school groups and tours.
  • Create and implement indoor aquaponics (STEM) curriculum for public schools (6-12 grade).
  • Share methods, curriculum and best practices with educational institutions, emergency food providers, and other interested organizations.
  • Develop and implement a Farmers Market that will participate in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) and accept Health Bucks and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
  • Implement culinary and nutrition workshops facilitated by paid community chefs at the Urban Aqua Farms Farmers Market.
  • Provide fish processing and preparation workshops at the Farmers Market.
  • Develop and implement energy efficient indoor food production practices including composting, solar energy use, and zero waste practices.
The aquaponics farm has been designed and will be constructed by Oko Farms. Oko Farms has an operational aquaponics farm in Bushwick Brooklyn. The building is currently under construction. The construction of the indoor farm is estimated to begin in November 2016 based on the completion of the building renovation and open in January 2017.