Monday, July 06, 2009


We need this in Hawaii--NY Times: Street Farmer

by Larry Geller

Check out this July 1, 2009 article from the New York Times Magazine, Street Farmer, describing the achievements of Will Allen, a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award winner:

Like others in the so-called good-food movement, Allen, who is 60, asserts that our industrial food system is depleting soil, poisoning water, gobbling fossil fuels and stuffing us with bad calories. Like others, he advocates eating locally grown food. But to Allen, local doesn’t mean a rolling pasture or even a suburban garden: it means 14 greenhouses crammed onto two acres in a working-class neighborhood on Milwaukee’s northwest side, less than half a mile from the city’s largest public-housing project.

Of course, Allen uses worms, but there’s much more to his methods, and I think we need to learn this in Hawaii:

With seeds planted at quadruple density and nearly every inch of space maximized to generate exceptional bounty, Growing Power is an agricultural Mumbai, a supercity of upward-thrusting tendrils and duct-taped infrastructure. Allen pointed to five tiers of planters brimming with salad greens. “We’re growing in 25,000 pots,” he said. Ducking his 6-foot-7 frame under one of them, he pussyfooted down a leaf-crammed aisle. “We grow a thousand trays of sprouts a week; every square foot brings in $30.” He headed toward the in-ground fish tanks stocked with tens of thousands of tilapia and perch. Pumps send the dirty fish water up into beds of watercress, which filter pollutants and trickle the cleaner water back down to the fish — a symbiotic system called aquaponics. The watercress sells for $16 a pound; the fish fetch $6 apiece.

Hawaii imports upwards of 90% of its food from the Mainland. It’s generally admitted that we cannot be fully sustainable… but maybe we need to re-think that.

Here’s a video…

And a related article.

So. Who in Hawaii can get the ball rolling and bring Allen’s knowhow to our state?

(Thanks to George Fox for suggesting this article)


What a revolutionary! I bet we have quite a few with this guys knowhow right here on the Big Island.

Actually, a guy working on similar systems in the US Virgin Islands recently came to UH and gave presentations covering all aspects of his operations. He thinks of the fish as processing the fish food into fertilizer for the plants. There are some people who are using his ideas here in Hawaii, but it sounds like could produce an enormous amount of food for Hawaii, whether on 1/4 acre or in a small backyard.

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