Saturday, April 17, 2010

Urban fish farming in Chicago

I think that this has been hinted at with Ald. Lyle whether you visit her monthly meetings or you read her monthly newsletters. She is in fact quoted in this article from the past week in the Tribune:
The idea of a fish farm in the middle of the city can seem quirky. Sometimes when 6th Ward Ald. Freddrenna Lyle brings up the subject, "people look at me as if they thought I had two heads," she said.

But raising fish in an urban area is a clean, organic way to grow food, proponents say. It puts vacant lots and old industrial buildings to good use, which is why another alderman has become a proponent, and creates jobs. If done right, advocates say, there's no smell and no pollution, since the fish wastewater is recirculated to irrigate vegetables and herbs.

"And you never have to worry about a loose fish bothering the neighbors," says Myles Harston, who owns AquaRanch Industries in Flanagan, Ill., and has set up about 500 systems nationwide.

But it will be a while before the idea may catch on in Chicago.

Fish cannot be farmed in the city on a commercial scale. Although Chicago's zoning codes say nothing explicitly about fish, they are classified as livestock, said Ald. Helen Schiller, who is working to build an aquaponic fish farm in a boarded-up building in her 46th Ward.

So far, only institutions that raise fish for educational purposes can do it. But Schiller, Lyleand urban agriculture advocates are trying to change that.

They are working with the city to write comprehensive guidelines for growing food in the city. An ad hoc committee, consisting of staff members from the departments of zoning and land use planning, buildings, environment and public health, are looking at such things as health requirements and building standards, waste disposal and where the soil comes from. For now, the committee is focusing on plant-based farming, but eventually it will take a look at urban fish farming.
Mentioned in this article is Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (also known once upon a time as Chicago Ag) located in the Mt. Greenwood community. They already grow fish at that. Perhaps we could hire some of those students to work at these fish growing facilities whereever they may be. Or pehaps interest other students to work in this field. Especially if they're interested in the sciences or agriculture.

Read the whole thing!

Also check out this YouTube video which shows the activites at an urban farm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where one activity is raising fish.

1 comment:

  1. I support Alderman Lyle's efforts on this project. The "green economy" is the future and I applaud her forward thinking. Waiting on Walmart and other big box stores to give people jobs is not the answer. When the mayor marched 20 men mostly african american with criminal backgrounds across a stage promoting a pet project everyone applauded the mayor for forward thinking.

    If you go to you tube and see the videos on Growing Power Inc urban farm you see it PRODUCES a variety of products(fish, salad greens, fertilizer, potting soil.etc). These products can be sold both on a retail and wholesale level and it turn CREATES jobs.

    I recently posted a question at Concerned Citizens of Chatham asking if the community would support a community owned farm store at one of the empty storefronts at 71st State. Not a lot of response but I feel that it is doable.

    As far as CHAS, they have approximately 10 acres of land to do a number of things and already get internships. It would be great to have them help out and work out their community service requirement. Also, it needs to be mentioned that Chicago State is also working on this project with the Alderman.


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