In early October I attended an Aquaponics workshop so that I could get my hands dirty and wrap my head around the simplicity of the concept. I also wanted to meet some of the people involved and see the farm lab that Top Farmers is running in the August-Sander-Berufsschule. It was organised in partnership with the Roof Water Farm, represented by Anja and Grit who are both informative, engaged, lively and very warm women.
The workshop started with an exchange of ideas about aquaponics and urban water systems, introducing and explaining some of the research in water treatment technologies for rainwater, greywater and blackwater undertaken at the Roof Water Farm. You can see some of there results
Markus from Top Farmers then took us around the greenhouse where different plants are grown and watered with their aquaponic system. This is their lab and they have the freedom to experiment; this year they are growing exotic plants and the banana tree is apparently even getting a bit too big. The fish in their aquaponic system are African Catfish, and, as at the ECF Containerfarm, you can have 80-100 fish in 1,000 litres of water. Once again, we are assured the fish actually even like this, as this species feels safer closer together but it’s counter-intuitive to my human brain and I find myself bothered by the idea.
(side note: Marcus also runs Chido’s Mushrooms, which grows mushrooms which grow mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds, and has been on my radar for a while. It was lovely to discuss with him the ins and outs of local food production.)
Finally we made a working model of an aquaponics system, and even though I opted out of coming home with goldfish in it, I look forward to trying it out in the near future and seeing how long it will last and if I can keep the plants alive.