Hydroponic agriculture involves growing plants in an inert medium, instead of soil. The advantages of the medium over soil is that the soil is prone to bug and pest problems, whereas the medium is not. The water in a hydroponic system is retains all of the nutrients from any fertilizer, and the system is closed, so no chemicals are leaked into watersheds. Also, because the system is closed, very little water is wasted compared to traditional irrigated agriculture. Hydroponic agriculture is generally not practiced at the same scale as traditional agriculture, and is often indoors. This is in contrast to the chinampas of Mexico City. The chinampas are "floating gardens," that are huge, built-up, barge-like rafts of reeds and soil that grow corn and other crops in the swamp of Mexico City. During the Aztec reign, the chinampas provided food for their capital, Tenochtitlan. The swamp was otherwise not arable and the Aztecs invented a method to develop agricultural land to feed their empire. The scale of the chinampas, and the innovation to use otherwise undesirable land was truly resourceful. In some way this is somewhere in between them, taking elements of both to develop a response to the issues of contemporary agriculture.
The full research proposal I've worked on is on the blog for this project: http://afloatinggarden.blogspot.com/
I have been working on a prototype and I have learned a lot about what I am making from it already, especially in terms of construction and assembly. The prototype in the video is currently installed at Boswyck Farms in Brooklyn, NY. Right now there is a young nectarine tree. Boswyck Farms has been a tremendous help and has provided lots of guidance throughout the process. Because of the prototype I built I have also been considering making slightly smaller pods from already made products, such as 44 gallon trash bins, which may feature in the Floating Garden pending continuing experiments during the fundraising period.
I will be pre-fabricating the floating gardens at "Table of Contents," a shop in Bushwick, Brooklyn. From there the modules will be moved to Plaxall Properties waterfront, just North of Center Blvd. in Long Island City, Queens and installed on site. While the Kickstarter in fundraising I will begin growing seedlings at Boswyck Farms to put into the pods when they are all ready. Immediately after the Kickstarter fundraising is complete I will begin construction. Within a week of completing the Kickstarter the assembly should be installed in the water. After giving the reservoir tank an initial watering, the plants will be transplanted into the pods, and everything will be ready to go!
- (20 days)