Who doesn’t love a nice water installation? The bubbling and gurgling of things like fountains has an undeniably relaxing effect – and yet, there’s the nagging guilt that comes from running a pump for the sheer purpose of recirculating water. How much power does it draw? What’s the carbon footprint of your meditative state? What has that water feature done for you, aside from making that ridiculous noise? No so relaxing anymore. Fortunately, artists and Ken Rinaldo have devised a way to create guilt-free water pleasantries while producing food and providing oxygen. The Farm Fountain, which uses aquaponics to fertilize plants with the waste produced by fish, is a bubbly oasis of greenery and aquaculture.
The concept of aquaculture involves delivering nutrients to plants in a soilless medium with water. In this case, the plants are growing in clay balls encased in reused 2-liter soda bottles. At the base of the Farm Fountain is a pond containing koi and tilapia, the latter being an edible fish acclimated to pond culture.
Waste water from the pond, sullied by the fish, is circulated up to the topmost planters then cascades down through the rest. The plants, which include basil, baby watercress, tomato and baby lettuce in this prototype, filter the nutrients from the water and return it to the pond ready for the fish. One system’s waste is another system’s food.
The plants are lit with LED growing lights in bases dissected from an inexpensive floor lamp. The artists provide step-by-step how-to instructions for anyone interested in making their own Farm Fountain, and growing own own food in peace.
The Farm Fountain was just awarded a Green Leaf Award (2008) from the Natural World Museum.