Good news for all you aspiring urban farmers: there’s now a new way to grow a pesticide-free garden right inside your tiny apartment. Two law school students with a passion for renewable food sources and one aquaponics expert with experience in farming have designed the Aqualibrium Garden, an indoor method for cultivating food all year round.
The Aqualibrium Garden is a series of stackable chambers that functions as both garden and aquarium. Once the crates snap together, they create an aquaponic system for growing edibles at home. Aquaponics is a symbiotic system where water circulates from the fish tank below and up into the soil of the garden. The fish, snails, or crawfish supply nutrients (read: poop) that fertilize the soil and aid in plant growth. The plants, which are warmed by a built-in LED grow light, subsequently filter the water, returning fresh H2O back to the fish tank. (And if the idea of keeping both fish and plants alive seems daunting, there is a hydroponic option allowing gardeners to simply add nutrients to the water.)
"People in urban environments typically don’t have the necessary environment for growing their own food," says Joshua Rittenberg, CEO of Aqualibrium. "Right now, there is no product on the market that allows for substantial food production using either aquaponics or hydroponics that is designed for urban living and is cost-effective."
If the clear polycarbonate modular system designed by Rittenberg and his partners looks like it belongs in a sci-fi flick, that may be because the team was inspired by the futurist and sustainable designer Jacque Fresco. They channeled some of Fresco's design principles, such as the curved shape. "The dome is the most stable structure we have," Rittenberg says.
This is good news for those who want to expand from their windowsills and plant foods that require a larger footprint. With the Aqualibrium, the founders list foods as big as eggplant as a possibility for your garden.
The modular unit also makes assembly and disassembly—or even just transport up a fifth-floor walk up apartment—an easy task. But convenience is only on aspect of the appeal. Rittenberg and the team are thinking bigger: "This will allow individuals to begin to take ownership over food production," he says. "GMOs, pesticides, and all the negative issues currently associated with mass-produced food are causing a growing number of Americans to demand more locally sourced food. This product is as local as it gets. It’s sitting in the living room."
Check out the Aqualibrium Garden’s Kickstarter campaign, and snag one for $300, here.