There is a saying that ‘civilisation is three meals away from anarchy’. Our major cities have become almost totally dependent on food that is grown a long way from where it is consumed. The EcoCity Farm is one solution to this dilemma. It is an aquaponic food production system – a system of cultivating plants and aquatic animals together in a closed-loop fashion It’s specifically designed for use in urban areas where land is a scarce resource. EcoCity Farms are the brainchild of third-generation farmer Hogan Gleeson and sustainable agriculturist Andrew Bodlovich.
The challenge of small-scale food production in urban areas is to produce food that people can live on, and that means more than just vegetables. The farm consists of a tank in which fish are farmed, a hydroponic system for growing plants, and a waste-processing module to convert waste into nutrients. It’s a self-sustaining process. Aquatic species such as fish or crustaceans are farmed in the tank, while the plants are grown in nutrient-rich water, which is produced using waste from the aquatic species. The plants in turn filter the excess nutrients from the water, making it safe for use in the tank again. The system is almost a perfect closed-loop for water, such that ninety-five per cent of the water is purified by the plants and recycled back into the fish tank. Just five per cent of the water is lost to evaporation from the plants, which is topped up automatically each day.
The various components of the EcoCity Farm are stacked one on top of another, minimising the use of space and allowing it to produce up to twelve times more food than other similarly sized systems. But most importantly, its small size means it can be set up close to where the end products are consumed.