In the heart of Brooklyn sits a small aquaponics farm on what was once a vacant dirt lot nestled between a pizzeria and a tax-prep service. If folks were to peek in (and Yemi Amu sure hopes they do), they would discover a bounty of cabbage, eggplant, collards, and other veggies growing in pools of recycled fish waste.
Amu founded Oko Farms, New York City’s first (and only) public outdoor aquaponics farm, in 2013. Beyond providing fresh produce to the community, Oko Farms teaches people how to create their own soilless farms and offers workshops on topics like food production and security.
Aquaponics is an ancient agricultural method that doesn’t require soil. Amu raises koi, goldfish, and catfish in a 1,200-gallon tank. Nutrient-rich water fertilized by all those fish is pumped into another tank containing floating garden beds, irrigating and fertilizing them. The plants in turn purify the water, which is pumped back into the fish tank, and the cycle begins anew. Because her plot in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood lacks a reliable source of water, Amu refills the tanks just a couple times each year, letting rainfall replace what’s lost to evaporation. ... Read more