Everyone knows the very tastiest tomatoes are homegrown, lovingly staked and watered at regular intervals until they’re big and red and ripe. Until recently, such simple pleasures were reserved for rural dwellers but the growing movement for urban farming is starting to change all that. While container gardens and green rooftops have made urban agriculture more common, a new system called a Portable Farm may take it a step further.
The system, invented by Colle Davis, offers a simple way to grow food for families, schools, businesses, or even commercial growers in hot or cold climates and produces food year round. The unit combines fish, water and plants in an integrated environment to raise vegetables and fish in very small space, with less water, no soil and the power of the sun. The idea is to bring the benefits of self-sufficiency (read: fresh, organic food) to anyone who wants it.
The farms come in several sizes and even the smallest model, a 6′ x 8′ unit, will produce an estimated 400 vegetables and 100 pounds of fish annually. By using Tilapia, a warm water fish, which circulates 80 degree F water through gravel trays the farm encourages rapid growth for both the fish and the vegetables; such a high level of efficiency makes the scheme particularly well suited to an urban setting.
I’ve long advocated growing edibles to anyone with a stoop, a patio or a fire escape, but for those with a little more space and some sunlight, this modern farm will bring the most bang for your buck and your time. Just think: fresh fish from your backyard. Local, sustainable, yum.