Godsil Interviews

33 Flatbush:

We are currently undertaking our first installation of an aquaponics system on the roof of the business incubator warehouse at 33 Flatbush (Old Metropolitan Bank Building, owned by Al Attara). This will be our aquaponics lab, where we test varying techniques and take qualitative and quantitative data to determine best practices. Through a partnership with a Parsons Graduate student, we will automatize the data collection process and receive precise and frequent measurements on the system and share this data with other collaborators in NYC. We plan to create a database of information that will be accessible free to the aquaponics community through an online resource hub which will link viewers via live feed of our systems and provide frequent updates on our data collection process.

Additionally, all food that is grown at our facility will be distributed to a local community organization, Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership through their Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project (MARP), which runs a youth green market and a food pantry for the low income individuals in the Clinton Hill and Fort Greene neighborhoods of Brooklyn. We will also hold trainings and tours of our system to the general public on a monthly and weekly basis.

Potential for collaboration with groups inside the building is great through partnerships with a community biotech lab, architects, engineers, artists, and other urban agriculturalists. The point of this first installation is to generate data, determine best practices for future installations, and to provide the local community with fresh sustainably produced food and outstanding educational opportunities.

Gowanus Public Installation:

VertiCulture is also currently working on designs for a large public installation of an aquaponics system in Gowanus, BK. This system will use all reclaimed building materials and will showcase the development of a fully functional production facility at a very low cost. CSA shares will be available to community members where they will come to the facility and pick up their fish and vegetable shares on a weekly basis year round.

From this installation, we hope to generate interest in development of low cost malleable aquaponics systems and to spread the technology throughout NYC.

Production/Training Facility:

VeritCulture is also interested in pursuing the development of a large scale aquaponics production and training facility in collaboration with community partners in the surrounding tri-state area. We have partnered with Dr. Martin Schreibman, Professor Emeritus of BIology at Bk College to pursue such a project and we are currently seeking formal partnerships to move forward with design and implementation.

Please feel free to email me with any questions or interest in collaboration!


What is VertiCultureNYC?

A an indoor 500–1000gallon recirculating aquaponics system employing a 250 sqft constant flood and drain bio reactor planting bed fueled by artificial lighting. The system will support 50–100 fish and will be able to produce lettuces, herbs, and fruiting plants.

How does it work?

As fish eat and grow, they release ammonia into the water through their gills and digestive system. Without export, ammonia levels will quickly become toxic and poison the fish. In order to remove ammonia and keep the fish alive and healthy, we use bio-media filters to process the ammonia into nitrates, a far less toxic chemical to fish. However, if nitrate concentrations get to high, they too can poison the fish over time. Therefore we need a third mechanism to remove nitrates from the water to ensure the fishes good health. This is where plants come in. Plants use nitrogen compounds to form proteins for cell growth. Without some form of nitrogen, nitrates in this case, plants will suffer from stunted growth. Thus we can use plants to remove the nitrates from the system and provide clean, ammonia and nitrate free water, for the fish.

In our system, ammonia rich water from the fish tank/s will be pumped into the bio-filter planting beds where it will come into contact with nitrifying bacteria colonies living on the planting media and root systems of the plants. Here, ammonia will be transformed by the bacteria into nitrates, an essential plant nutrient and a far less toxic chemical to fish. The plants will use these available nitrates to grow, removing them from the water, thus purifying it for the fish. The clean water will be returned to the fish tank to complete the closed loop. No water will be removed from the system, and water will only be added to replace that which is lost to evaporation and uptake by the plant

VertiCultureNYC module has two goals - 1) be an educational resource available to local and online communities, and 2) to produce high quality fresh foods. Regarding 1), we believe we can create a system that can be replicated, and scaled to fit the majority of warehouse spaces throughout the world. We would like to give tours of the facility and its functions, and construction of the system and its progress will be streamed live on our website. From this, we aim to create an online aquaponics community hub where information will be shared, and opportunities will be available for individuals to learn ways to become active members of the aquaponics community. As for 2), the operation will be fully functional, producing high quality fish and vegetables to be sold at local farmers markets and restaurants throughout NYC.

Contact us at VertiCultureNYC@gmail.com

Last edited by Godsil. Based on work by Ryan Morningstar and Tyler Schuster.  Page last modified on May 03, 2012

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