The Science Barge

Posted on June 6, 2008  Comments (2)

photo of the science barge in NYC
The Science Barge is a prototype, sustainable urban farm and environmental education center. It is the only fully functioning demonstration of renewable energy supporting sustainable food production in New York City. The Science Barge grows tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce with zero net carbon emissions, zero chemical pesticides, and zero runoff.

From May to October 2007, the Science Barge hosted over 3,000 schoolchildren from all five New York boroughs as well as surrounding counties as part of our environmental education program. In addition, over 6,000 adult visitors visited the facility along with press from around the world.

NY Sun Works: The Science Barge

Limited growing space means growing upwards, with stacked pots for strawberries, and vines that grow up to the ceiling and are then folded over to grow back down. Instead of using pesticides, pests are kept in check using ladybugs, parasitic wasps, and other predators as needed. Environmentally friendly substrates such as rice husks, coconut shells, and Earth Stone (recycled glass), are used to aerate the root systems for the plants.

Most fascinating of all was the Aquaponic system for providing nutrients to the plants using catfish. Nutrients from the plants and worms feed the catfish, who produce nitrogen-rich waste, which feeds the plants. Tilapia were originally used, but eventually replaced with catfish, which were better suited to the climate. The result of all this effort is a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables given out to all the children who visit the barge.

Great stuff. Related: Science, Education and Communityother posts on environmental solutions

2 Responses to “The Science Barge”

  1. Thomas Wright
    June 14th, 2008 @ 11:18 am

    That’s a really clever idea. Reminds me of an old article I saw in new scientist about Dutch plans to create tiered mega-farms. This is a whole lot less sinister though (no battery farmed pigs) and much more environmentally focused (Cop2 neutral etc). The catfish thing sounds great too.
    My big question is whether it would be commercially viable…

  2. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Science and the City: Science Barge
    July 27th, 2008 @ 5:46 pm

    […] an excellent podcast series from the New York Academy of Science. The latest podcast discusses the science barge project we posted about earlier. They discuss looking at commercially viable urban farms (on rooftops in […]

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