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Cutting Edge Way To Grow Food

  • Subject: [cg] Cutting Edge Way To Grow Food
  • From: Bagelhole1@aol.com
  • Date: Tue, 5 Feb 2002 18:27:13 EST

I have a not for profit project, www.bagelhole.org (where there is a photo of 
the small version on the homepage) which focusses on sharing and collecting 
low-tech, alternative, sustainable info to help individuals and communities 
towards self-reliance, self-sustainability, and autonomy. Vertical aquaponics 
is a cutting edge way for people to grow their own food. I have both a large 
and small version functioning in my backyard in San Francisco as I am trying 
to make my home a model for sustainability ( I have a long way to go), though 
I have chickens for eggs, fruit trees, and growing mushrooms too.
    In a 3'x3'x 7' high space, I can place 100 2 liter plastic pop bottles 
for plant holders in vertical columns over about 1 and a half feet of water 
for fish and water plants, the fish supplying the nutrients for the plants, 
the water being pumped up thru 1/2 inch tubing every 10 hours for 1 minute or 
so (timer is attached). The bacteria in the roots help cleans the fish water, 
the action aerates it a bit, the water plants help clean the water and feeds 
the fish. Each 2 liter bottle can hold 4-10 plants.
    So, you can see that this makes growing your own vegetables and herbs 
feasible for many people since it overcomes the problems of insufficient 
space and time. Once its set up, it only needs a little monitoring and 
    A larger version (22'x7'x22'x7', 2'deep water and about 7' high) is also 
operating successfully in my backyard. This would be an ideal project for all 
schools everywhere, as it has about 720 bottles and is also a great learning 
device, besides creating a never ending supply of organic veggies, herbs, and 
fish. Inside the water there is fish, water plants (water hyacinth, azolla), 
turtles, frogs, and crayfish. We may put a 6' anaconda in there as well along 
with some tree frogs.
    Our goal is to see this being implemented as widely as possible. We would 
be happy to advise and help others in any way we can. The cost is around 
$1000 for the large one, depending on how much wood and windows can be found 
or gotten very cheap. The main expenses are the pumps about $60 each, timer 
$80, the corrugated plastic greenhouse roofing. The hosing, s hooks, wire, 
shredded bark for growing medium, seeds, clay balls or stones to allow flow, 
are negligible. Labor should be volunteered by children and parents. 2 liter 
plastic pop bottles need to be collected.
    I tell you all this, with the hope that you will see the value of this 
and perhaps decide to share this with the schools you work with and your 
colleagues to help get this happening everywhere. I would be interested in 
your thoughts. Also, you are welcome to come and visit anytime, and we would 
be happy to advise and help in any way we can.

Most Organically,
Tom Osher
San Francisco

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