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"Business Week" fails the rooftop garden connection

  • Subject: [cg] "Business Week" fails the rooftop garden connection
  • From: "Geoff Wilson" <geoff@nettworx.info>
  • Date: Fri, 8 Oct 2004 07:51:35 +1000

?Business Week? backs

urban fish farms -- but

fails the rooftop garden connection.

North America?s most influential business magazine, ?Business Week?, has predicted that urban fish farming and rooftop gardening will become part of  the world?s ?innovation economy?. But it did not go far enough in exploring what community gardeners can do on rooftops.

In its October 11 issue the magazine said:

?As Asia?s population grows wealthier, global demand for protein is on track to outstrip the supply of feed necessary to raise all the chickens and cows we?ll need.

?Fish are a better idea: They need less food to generate each pound of flesh. Yet, due to a lack of global cooperation, fish are often harvested until too few are left to catch.  And today?s fish farms can poison nearby waters with rotting food, chemical additives and fish waste?

The answer, the magazine said in its 32-page special report on the innovation economy ahead, could be urban fish factories around the world.

The magazine said urban fish farming technology was on its way around the world. It gave, as an example, a basement fish farm in New York City?s Brooklyn College. 

Professor Martin P Schreibman, a distinguished scientist and biology professor of the college, has been proving the urban fish farming point with a high-efficiency system growing Tilapia, a tropical fish much favoured in the United States.

Not only does the US grow large quantities of Tilapia in urban agricultural systems where heat and feed wastes from food processing are well used, but it also imports this fish from as far away as Indonesia.

Professor Martin?s system filters waste and has a careful water recirculation system for raising large volumes of fish in small spaces.

?Business Week? made the point that the market for the fish is nearby and transport costs are thus lower. ?That could mean fresher, cheaper fish for all,? the magazine opined.

Professor Schreibman's interests include understanding the physiology of the brain-pituitary-gonad axis, induction of spacing and ovulation of fin fish under intensive aquaculture conditions, analysis of closed aquatic ecosystems, regenerating life-support systems and assessment of environmental impact on fish physiology and fisheries management.

His work in urban fish farming for these studies has made a very real point for both commercial and community gardeners..

However, ?Business Week?s? innovation economy report also predicted the ?greening? of urban rooftops to reduce ?heat island effect? that contributed to global warming.

It said the trend towards rooftop vegetation began in Europe in the 1980s and was now catching on in Chicago, Tokyo and New York.   

The green roofs referred to were turfed or ornamentally-foliaged -- cooling buildings in summer and keeping them warmer in winter.

But the magazine did not make the obvious link between basement waste production by fin fish and the use of those wastes in organic hydroponics on rooftops that becomes ?aquaponics? -- to further lower the cost urban food production close to where it is needed, and to reduce the use of fossil fuels in transport energy from distant vegetable farms.  

An important additional point to make is that community rooftop farming and gardening probably has its biggest opportunity for global expansion based on rooftops of apartments and commercial buildings.

I commend "Business Week" for it's recognition of two important innovations. I hope the magazine now goes much further.                      


Geoff Wilson, President, Urban Agriculture Network-Western Pacific. October 7, 2004Geoff@nettworx.info




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