What is River-ponics?

A fat summertime squash almost ripe for the picking.

A fat summertime squash almost ripe for the picking.

OUR THINKING

Aquaponics is defined as a system of aquaculture where the waste produced by farmed aquatic animals (typically fish), supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purifies the water. Since we are performing that exact same process, but on a river, we coined the term 'river-ponics'.

Co-founders, Nick Wesley and Zachary Damato, attempted their first try at river-ponics in 2015 with a single cherry tomato plant, on the then floating raft, the Fitzcarraldo. Now, with Urban Rivers' flagship floating garden in the water and Module 56 (brandy wine tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, cucumber, green zucchini), Module 57 (green cup cabbage, purple cabbage, summertime squash, lacinato kale, curly kale) and Module 58 (lemon basil, thyme, rosemary) dedicated to river-ponics, the feasibility of executing this exciting process is being put to the test. 

Samples of the plants will be harvested, once mature, to test their toxicity levels in order to determine potential health risks and to adjust future growing plans. Our team is extremely excited about the potential of these locally and sustainably grown crops, which will be the first crops ever grown on the Chicago River. Their roots will also aid in improving the river's water quality (phytoremediation) and will provide aquatic organisms with habitat and refuge. 

Why do it?

Aside from the reasons mentioned above, our organization is driven to prove that urban rivers can serve communities in economically viable ways, other than shipping goods and transporting sewage down stream. From creating habitat to growing food; we're dedicated to inspire. 

Come out and see our crops for yourself – we might even let you try some! Send us a note at team@urbanriv.org.

 
The herbs and leafy-greens took immediately to the garden.

The herbs and leafy-greens took immediately to the garden.