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October 5, 2012

Johns Hopkins Launches Aquaponics Project

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) formally launched its new Aquaponics Project at Cylburn Arboretum in Baltimore today with a grand opening ceremony.

The Aquaponics Project is raising about 400 tilapia fish and producing several hundred pounds of organic produce, all within a 1,200-square-foot greenhouse. The project expects to sell the fish and produce at local farmers’ markets and through Baltimore-area fish markets. Surplus output will be donated to local emergency food providers.

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The Center for a Livable Future developed this project to demonstrate the potential of recirculating aquaculture for water-efficient and ecologically sound fish production. It fits into CLF’s larger goals of highlighting potentially sustainable alternatives to our dominant methods of food production and could become a model for local entrepreneurs and backyard hobbyists.

Aquaponics combines fish farming (aquaculture) with soil-less plant production (hydroponics), where the fish waste becomes fertilizer for the growing plants. The system produces two income streams for an aquaponics business—from fish and from vegetables/greens.

CLF renovated an unused greenhouse at Cylburn, temporarily donated by Baltimore City’s Department of Recreation and Parks, and outfitted it with two 150-square-foot hydroponic grow beds and four 210-gallon fish tanks.  It first introduced tilapia into the tanks in June, and it expects the fish to begin reaching market weight by January. The grow beds are producing a variety of vegetables and herbs, including lettuce, kale, celery, basil, eggplant and okra.

The project is open to the public on Wednesdays from 10 to noon, or by appointment. We welcome tour groups. Please contact farm manager Laura Genello at lgenello@jhsph.edu.

The Center for a Livable Future is part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Its mission is to promote research and to develop and communicate information about the complex interrelationships among diet, food production, environment and human health, to advance an ecological perspective in reducing threats to the health of the public and to promote policies that protect health, the global environment and the ability to sustain life for future generations.

Media contact: Tim Parsons, director of Public Affairs, at 410-955-7619 or tmparson@jhsph.edu.