Innovative Fish-run Organic Farming Project on Hold at Downsview Park

An organic and zero waste farming project, driven by 500 lbs of Tilapia fish, is currently on hold at the corner of Keele St. and Sheppard Ave.

Waiting on a long-term lease from Downsview Park, Fresh City Farms seeks to resume the largest scale cultivation of local food in the GTA – using fish excrement.

In a partnership with WaterFarmers Aquaponics, the Aquaponics system, at Fresh City is a closed water system that recirculates water between a fish tank and a floating vegetable bed. Nutrients from fish waste are feed to the plants and the plants in turn filter the water for the fish.

Issues with current agricultural practises like scarcity of freshwater, decline in soil fertility, and extreme weather aren’t an issue with this innovation and it is also beneficial for community building, job creation and food education.

Who wouldn’t be interested to learn about a clean, no waste way to grow food near or at home. Not to mention using fish that you can eat if you wish. Quite the conversation starter.

Saving up to 90% of water compared to traditional agriculture, aquaponics only needs a 10% volume top up to the total water volume each week according to Arvind Venkat, the Chief Scientist, Founder and CEO of WaterFarmers. Not only that, but it is close to one of the “purest food production technologies in the world”, as stated on their website.

“Vegetables grow up to 50% faster than soil farming” says Arvind.

Using the digestive system of cold blooded animal to its advantage, the excrement produces a broad spectrum of nutrients compared to cow or horse manure. Unlike commercial farming which causes erosion and soil depletion, no additives, pesticides or fertilizers are needed within this closed loop system which uses 100% of what goes into it.

The WaterFarmers have projects in over 10 different countries including Hong Kong, Turkey, Costa Rica and Indonesia. Aquaponics is said to be particularly useful for islands surrounded by salt water or areas with harsh climates experiencing extreme weather or drought.

Changes in soil temperature that would normally affect growing conditions are controlled in greenhouses.

That also means basil and cherry tomatoes are available in December – a surprise to those used to just having the choice of local Ontario root vegetables in the winter months.

The WaterFarmers seek to empower sustainable communities ranging from commercial and academic partnerships, down to helping you in your own home.

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