Farming in the big city
Here is a great video of what I call a true Frugal Prosumer. Combining high tech and low cost gardening in the city.
The land in West Oakland where Eric Maundu is trying to farm is covered with freeways, roads, light rail and parking lots so there's not much arable land and the soil is contaminated. So Maundu doesn't use soil. Instead he's using aquaponics to grow plants using fish and circulating water.
Maundu- who is trained in industrial robotics- has taken the agricultural craft one step further and made his gardens smart. Using sensors (to detect water level, pH and temperature), microprocessors (mostly the open-source Arduino microcontroller), relay cards, clouds and social media networks (Twitter and Facebook), Maundu has programmed his gardens to tweet when there's a problem (i.e. not enough water) or when there's news (i.e. an over-abundance of food to share).
Maundu himself ran from agriculture in his native Kenya- where he saw it as a struggle for land, water and resources. This changed when he realized he could farm without soil and with little water via aquaponics and that he could apply his robotics background to farming. He believes that by putting gardens online, especially in places like West Oakland (where his solar-powered gardens are totally off the grid), it's the only way to make sure that farming remains viable to the next generation of urban youth.
Maundu is the co-founder of Kijiji Grows, an Oakland-based company that designs and sells custom aquaponics systems for growing food. They also educates people about aquaponics and brings new possibilities for sustainable farming to Bay Area schools, homes, and businesses.
Their site states:
"We are a farming technology organisation located in West Oakland California. We use aquaponics to improve life’s in urban and rural communities by utilising traditional concepts, local materials and modern technologies. Kijani is the Swahili word for the color green. Kijani grows means Green grows.
Our vision is to reduce disparities by addressing common basic needs using aquaponic technologies and systems through education, job creation and local food access."
Growing Power is another one that is doing a lot, if your interested in growing food in the city. They are not far from where I live and I have been there a number of times and have talked with Will Allen. I can say I'm more than impressed with what he is doing and have implemented a number of his ideas myself.
For those interested in Aquaponic Food Production for Long Term Survival see this article of how this guy goes i at: www.survivalblog.com/2011/07/aquaponic_food_production_for.html.