Urban aquaculture, coming to Vancouver soon?

I spent this weekend in Victoria where my wife and I, along with friends and family, joined the last leg of the Get out Migration. The migration was led by legendary environmental activist Alexandra Morton who set out from Sointula, 500 kilometers north of Victoria, on April 23rd to lead a human migration that honored the yearly runs of BCs wild pacific salmon. These runs have been increasingly threatened by environmental degradation and habitat destruction on BCs coast. Many leading marine biologists, sport fishermen and Morton herself believe the greatest source of degradation and habitat destruction comes from the Norwegian owned open net cage farms; breeding grounds for sea lice with as much sewage-like waste output as your average BC city.  As recent pilot projects have proven, a viable alternative exists, and this alternative may create opportunities for urban economic stimulus and job creation too.

These tanks designed by Canada's Agri Marine, can hold up to 50,000 trout

A recent study suggests that not only will we have to move to closed containment to allow our marine ecosystems to heal, but it will also be a sustainable and profitable move.  Growing Power have already proven that aquaponics is a feasible practice on a smaller and medium scale while a larger scale closed containment aquaculture project in China launched just this past December has piqued interest world wide. Canadian company AgriMarine created the technology being used for the fish farm in China where 50,000 trout are currently housed, needless to say, some Canadians are now asking why their own technology found a home in China before it did here?

Another project that Vancouver (and BC) may consider drawing inspiration from is Cityscape in San Francisco. Cityscape, an urban agriculture organization in San Francisco is looking to create market-scale aquaponics operations (that include fish) in the Bay Area -south San Francisco in particular. Restaurants, keen to include locally sourced and sustainably farmed products are apparently eager to support this initiative. Go here for a great article on Cityscape and the impossible logic of urban food production.

So can we imagine a Vancouver where urban agriculture and aquaculture contribute to our world class dining culture? I sure can. One word sums it all up for me FRESH.

It’s a fresh idea that will create fresh new jobs, and of course year round fresh food. And let’s not forget the extra fresh air we’ll all enjoy from a decreased need to truck industrial foods from one end of the continent to the other!

For more information on the exciting urban farming initiatives here in Vancouver you can also visit these sites:

SOLEfood

CityFarmer

UBC Farm

Projects in Place

Environmental Youth Alliance

The White House organic food garden expanding, Vancouver’s SOLEfood is too!

This Easter holidays Michelle Obama expanded on an already ambitious urban farming initiative in Washington D.C., the one in the White House back yard, as students from Bancroft Elementary and Hollin Meadows Elementary joined the first lady for a day of gardening and planting to start the Easter Weekend last Wednesday. The organic gardening initiative also ties in with a comprehensive health and fitness initiative that the First Lady is championing called Let’s Move, aimed at solving the childhood epidemic of obesity in America within a generation. Renowned urban agriculturalist (and MacArthur Genius Fellow) Will Allen was on hand for the launching of this initiative and spoke, along with the First Lady, on the importance of nutrition, food security and the powerful role that urban farming can play. And with that it give me delight to announce that Will Allen will be  speaking in Vancouver Tuesday July 13 from 7-9pm at the Croatian Cultural Centre, 3250 Commercial Drive (off 14th Ave). Register ASAP as his previous speaking engagement sold out.

As was noted in a previous post, Mr. Allen needed to undergo surgery and was unable to make that previous speaking engagement, part of the SFU Centre for Dialogue’s Growing out of Hunger series, late last month.  We’re excited that he was able to reschedule so quickly. He will be visiting a city where urban farming, along with other green initiatives, definitely enjoys momentum.

In addition to the dozens of community gardens in Vancouver, the SOLEfood inner city farm network will be expanding this spring to incorporate a second site in Chinatown. Further to beautifying and greening urban spaces one of the attributes of the SOLEfood network that makes it unique from many of the other community gardens is its focus on food production, much like the White House garden. The farm on Hawks and Hastings continues to provide training, education and employment opportunities for residents of Vancouver’s inner-city while providing a valuable service to the community. Good, healthy and wholesome food.

More information about the SOLEfood inner-city farm network’s second location will be posted on the Greening the Inner-City Blog soon!

For more information on Michelle Obama’s White House garden check out the White House Blog.  For more information on Will Allen and Growing Power visit Growing Power’s website.

Semi-regular Green News

It’s been a busy time for the keener greeners and the BOB staff in Vancouver’s inner-city. Hopefully we have some good news of our own to blog about, actually count on it.

However as more folks step forward to post and comment on this website, it seems I have to handle more inquiries as the most visible or at least most prolific poster we have. Here are a few stories that have arrived lately that our audience may be interested in.

Green Marketing was recently in the Havarad Business news blog. It is strange to see an institution like HBS embrace blogging, I remember when it was considered rogue, some us are still considered rogues. Thanks to @make_good for that one.

From Seann Dory comes a story of Will Allen’s Growing Power urban agriculture project. They are using green houses, raised beds, and most interestingly fish as part of their aquaponics. He got a lot of help from the University of Wisconsin but maybe Growing Power will change what made Milwaukee famous.

The take aways from the article for those looking to replicate the system used there are:

Start with waste. Honor worms. Think in terms of systems. Study Nature.