Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

A Radical New Type of CSA and How We’re trying to Kickstart it

      I have always struggled to explain my vision for the future.  In my mind it’s crystal clear.  I see people consuming food grown in their kitchen.  I see people living in houses that have walls of orchids and ferns, sleeping and working and playing in rooms that resemble more a jungle than a bedroom or a study.  Whenever I drive through the city, I envision the gray concrete walls and the ugly architecture covered with the straw-colored stalks of grasses, brown branches and green vines.  I see an urban jungle growing up, lining the streets, with crops like lettuce and herbs, perhaps free for the taking, growing on walls and fences, replacing scarcity with excess.  Instead of gutters overflowing with runoff from flash rainstorms, I imagine rainwater being absorbed by the greedy plants growing from the roofs and walls and streets of the city.  Instead of massive sewer systems to handle what is mostly graywater, I see the rinsewaters of the city being consumed on site for radical gardening.  I see a future where people are intimately involved with plants at every turn, with green, living, breathing things filling every empty nook in our lives.  I believe that Humanity was born in the soft light and swaying branches of a forest, and we have longed to be returned to that environment ever since we left it.

      To that end, I began to build things, most recently culminating in these nifty tower systems, inspired by epiphytes and the plants I’d observed growing the cracks of cliff faces.  The towers proved to work well and most importantly, were modular, so I started to sell the produce that I grew live using displays that allowed the towers to be snapped directly into them.  It was successful, and people responded strongly to harvesting and interacting with the plants.  I viewed this as coming one step closer to that horticultural singularity- it was one step closer to the forest.

      The next logical step was to put towers in people’s homes.  There are all sorts of problems with this, including light, temperature, pests, nutrients, etc., so the first steps will be baby ones.  I have bootstrapped my way into a greenhouse that allows me to grow hundreds of towers in my aquaponic system, and have built a 50 member CSA around it, so I have the supply and the market.  Now I need to build a basin/reservoir to “dock” the towers in once they are in people’s kitchens.  To do this, I’m building a consumer product- a hydroponic kit to be exact, that will come with solution, a reservoir and a tower for growing in.  Hopefully, enough folks will see it and think it’s neat, that they’ll buy one or contribute to the cause.  If this happens, I’ll be able to make the molds to build the reservoir to move towers directly into people’s homes. 

      This would be a radical new kind of CSA, where towers of growing produce are delivered on a weekly basis and food is consumed when it is in its nutritional prime- it will be the type of harvesting and eating that we have always been meant to do.  It will be a CSA where customers get more value for less cost, and where the aesthetic value holds as much appeal as the practical value of food.   But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

      You see, in order to get started, I have to find the funding to build the reservoir.  My handmade, labor intensive displays simply won’t cut it for this type of application.  And as many of you know, aquaponic farming isn’t exactly a goldmine.  So, I have launched a Kickstarter Campaign, with reward levels including kits.  I’m presenting this to the AP community here because I think that whether or not the kit is of interest to you, the vision for these reservoirs probably is.  Everyone on this site is tied together by passion for gardening, farming and aquaponics, and while we have squabbles from time to time, the shared vision remains.  If this vision aligns with yours, and you think that this is a future you’d like to live in, check out our Kickstarter page at:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/569973520/grow-up-vertical-farm... 

      I view this project as the first of many that will bring about that horticulture-integrated future that I want to see.  If you do choose to buy a kit or participate at any of the other reward levels, I want to thank you for partnering with me.  I’m really excited to build something radical.

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Comment by Earl ward on December 1, 2012 at 3:35am

Nate I love  the vision, good luck I agree with Rupert

Comment by Nate Storey on November 27, 2012 at 11:06am

Thanks for the support Rupert!

Comment by Nate Storey on November 27, 2012 at 10:57am

Yeah Vlad, using Molly is just shameless, but it has to be done.  She's becoming a feral greenhouse child.  It's pretty adorable.

Thanks for the advice Rupert- My goal on this isn't to make tons of money though, it's to get it made and validate the model. . . I've never been good at pricing- at least I know I won't go broke on the project!  Maybe I should hire you as my pricing/market guru?  :)  Although I warn you, I can't pay you anything. :)

Comment by RupertofOZ on November 26, 2012 at 7:30pm

Nate... you're totally under-valuing yourself...

A micro table top system... a goldfish bowl with a lettuce sandwich on top.... that will probably just end up as landfill... was recently listed for $100,000... ... nd the trinket wont produce any food... your's will....

 

Raise the price... and best of luck to you... I'll support you...

Comment by Vlad Jovanovic on November 26, 2012 at 4:59pm

Yeah, yeah...Just meant that it seems like one of the more solid micro system ideas I've seen. The kick starter page was really entertaining too. Molly is super cute...

Comment by Nate Storey on November 26, 2012 at 4:50pm

Thanks Vlad.  I'm glad you approve!  :)

Comment by Vlad Jovanovic on November 26, 2012 at 4:36pm

Nate, great vids and even greater idea! I've gotta say of all the "micro"-AP-for-in-house-use type systems I've seen lately...yours is easily my favorite. (Not to mention, one that I believe is actually functional long term, as opposed to a lot of the "silly" 'mico-home' product/ideas being floated these days, in seeming disregard to actual functionality). I really hope this project gets the funding it needs to get off the ground.

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