project leader
Miles C
33 Flatbush Ave
Brooklyn (Boerum Hill)
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the project

VertiCulture - - consists of Ashley King, Miles Crettien, Peter Spartos, and Ryan Morningstar.

VertiCulture plans to build a fully functional aquaponics facility on the roof of 33 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. This will provide a model of sustainable food production in urban environments that has the capability to be a viable alternative to modern agricultural practices - practices that cause land degradation, water waste, and depleting fish populations. This project will fight social determinants of health by providing the freshest and highest quality fish and produce available to low income community members in Brooklyn . Food will be distributed to Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership, located 0.2 miles from 33 Flatbush, where they will disperse it between their youthmarket program and food pantry.

The project will be available for viewing on an abundance of social media websites, as well as through physical tours. This will provide individuals with a free educational resource - showing them how they can implement and achieve their own aquaponics projects. VertiCulture will set up both cameras, and a computer, and share the data, video, and images on our social media websites. VertiCulture will also provide hands-on seminars for community members to train them on how to run aquaponics systems - providing them with tangible skills for any future aquaponics endeavors. 

All the labor to produce and maintain this operation from May 2012-November 2013 will be provided by VertiCulture free of charge, and all contributions to the program are tax-deductible.

the steps

Design and construction of the demonstration aquaponics system began in early February 2012 and is scheduled for completion by May 2012. The system will be supporting fish, and producing fruits and vegetables by early June 2012. Tours and informational seminars for the public will be held in June 2012 up until November 2012. The design, construction, and implementation process is being, and will continue to be, documented throughout the entirety of the project. All information pertaining to the project, including design, implementation, written documentation, and photos and videos from our cameras and computer will be made available through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Wikipages, and Youtube. Fish and produce harvested during the project will be distributed to the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership for their youth market program and food pantry.

Please see a more detailed timeline below:

why we're doing it

VertiCulture believes that the issue of raising enough fish and other high quality sources of animal protein to feed New York City’s population has been largely overlooked in the local sustainable urban agriculture movement. In order to reach the goal of creating healthy, self-sustaining city populations, consideration must be given to the current source of our fish and other animal protein, and how to start producing them more locally and at a viable scale.

Aquaponics offers an innovative, technological solution that is based on ecological design and is inherently sustainable. The system feeds and maintains itself through simple biological and chemical processes that mimic natural wetland ecosystems. There are no chemical inputs, water is reused through a recirculating water purifying system, and substantial amounts of fish and fresh fruits and vegetables can be produced cleanly and without any genetic modification, antibiotics, artificial growth hormones, inorganic fertilizers or pesticides.

Current large-scale industrial farming is one of the most environmentally damaging human practices on the planet. Yet, as our population soars exponentially to an expected population of 10 billion people in the next 40 years, we will need to expand production of arable land to approximately 1 billion hectares (20% larger than the land mass of Brazil). However, this amount of arable land DOES NOT exist and 80% of the land that is suitable for growing crops is already currently in use. Furthermore, through continued mismanagement and high inputs of toxic chemicals, over 15% of this arable land to date has been degraded to a non-arable state. (FAO and NASA)

In addition to degradation of arable land through conventional agriculture, current farming practices consume 70% of the potable fresh water worldwide. Nearly all of this water is rendered useless or undrinkable once used by agriculture due to contamination by pesticides and fertilizers.

Additionally, wild commercial fishery populations have diminished drastically through unsustainable harvesting practices and increasing human demand. Stocks of traditionally sought after fish species, such as salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna, are at dangerously low numbers and are at risk of becoming extinct all together. Commercial fish farming and aquaculture operations have tried to increase supply but have created toxic aquatic environments where genetically modified fish are plagued with disease and threaten viable wild populations when they escape into fragile ecosystems. These traditionally sought after fish species are not ideal for growing in confined aquaculture settings due to difficulties with breeding and unfavorable feed to pounds of edible fish ratios. In contrast, aquaponics employs fish species that are ideal for closed aquaculture due to their prolific breeding habits, tolerance of variable environmental conditions, and ability to survive off of completely vegetarian feed with a very favorable feed to pounds of edible meat ratio.

By 2050, 80% of the human population is expected to reside in urban centers. VertiCulture is working to promote and enhance a form of ecologically sound urban agriculture that can produce ample amounts of high quality fish and vegetables while promoting land preservation, freshwater conservation, and sustainable aquaculture practices. Bringing production to the local urban level will provide ample opportunities for job training and creation in the field of Sustainable Urban Agriculture.

Lack of fresh affordable food and lack of education about how to obtain this food in low income neighborhoods throughout NYC along with other institutional barriers are at the core of food injustice and food access issues in the city. Affordable scalable aquaponics systems, which VertiCulture is developing on the rooftop of 33 Flatbush Avenue, will provide a viable answer to where this healthy affordable food can come from. The ultimate goal of this project is to promote the practice of sustainable aquaponics throughout NYC by developing highly efficient decentralized production facilities. These facilities will be used to both grow food and train individuals in their neighborhoods on how to run the systems, thus providing communities with the resources and knowledge necessary to combat food access and food sovereignty issues locally.

Project Budget:


TEDxDUMBO is currently seeking people with urban-based projects to present an ‘Action Pitch’ at the event, and we were wondering if you might be in town and would want to pitch about VertiCulture. More details can be found at


2 Mag Drive 24 Pumps $240 Manhattan Aquariums Grodan Plugs $180 BX Hydroponics and Garden 6 240w Blackstar LED lights $1,800 Gotham Hydroponics Seneye remote monitoring $200 Bulk Reef Supply Planting Baskets $40 BX Hydroponics and Garden Hydroton Growing Medium $400 BX Hydroponics and Garden 30' Black 1/2" Irrigation Tubing $30 Gotham Hydroponics 30 Rainbird Spray Emitters $30 Gotham Hydroponics Plumbing $540 Fabco AES Vibratory Feeder, 3 liter $190 Aquatic Eco-Systems Floating Pellet feed 3 months $1,100 Aquatic Eco-Systems HP Pavillion p7qe Desktop $650 Best Buy 3 Panasonic BL-C140A Cameras $600 Best Buy TOTAL $6,000 Total Disbursed to Group = $4024.07 3rd party credit card processing fee (3%) = $120.72 Fiscal sponsorship fee (5%) = $201.200 Total raised = $4381.00


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This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


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