Gallery: THE SCIENCE BARGE: Making Waves in Urban Agriculture


Given that close to half of the world’s population now lives in cities with a swelling of up to 5 billion anticipated by the year 2030, one might ask whether we can afford to overlook the viability of urban farming and food production enterprises as a means to green our city communities long term. Granted there are community gardens, green roof projects, CSA’s, and green markets to support and consider, but how long can we continue to overlook the possibilities of colonizing urban zones that might resourcefully allow us to grow locally produced food without hefty transportation costs and waste? The New York Sun Works Center for Sustainable Engineering is already tackling this issue head on with their urban agriculture project, the Science Barge, a floating island of green in and around NYC’s waterfront parks and waterways.

The Science Barge is a sustainable urban farm designed by New York Sun Works, a Manhattan-based environmental nonprofit organization. Situated atop a floating ‘barge’ greenhouse powered by solar, wind and biofuels, and irrigated by rainwater and purified river water, the farm grows food in the city with no carbon emissions, no net water consumption, and no waste stream. The vegetables grown on the Science Barge require seven times less land and four times less water than traditional field crops. The center also uses a method called ‘recirculating greenhouse hydroponics’ to grow tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and peppers. No soil or pumped in water is utilized in this cultivation process.

Research on the Science Barge allows for an ongoing investigation of the building and testing of ecologically responsible systems for the production of energy, clean water, and food, and the vital study of human impacts on the local environment. New York Sun Works founder and current Executive Director, Ted Caplow, was trained as an environmental engineer at Columbia University, where he earned his Ph.D. investigating water contaminant dynamics in the Hudson River Estuary. Dr. Caplow also holds an M.S. from Princeton, where he researched solar energy and global sustainability, and a B.A. from Harvard, where his focus was on sociology and international development. Together with his dedicated team, he hopes to create ways for cities to independently produce and manage a significant portion of their own food, energy, and water. With climate change forever on the horizon, food security and distribution may increasingly be compromised in certain parts of the world. The latest waves of innovative urban agriculture may serve to protect people while also protecting the environment.

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  1. anthony Foo May 13, 2008 at 9:56 am

    The science barge concept is sound,especialy when we consider how many people and habitats are going to loose there sea leavel homes in the next few decades, islands, attols and even some coastal inhabitants may choose this as there reality.
    Fish farms as well as ocianic orchards could be put created in this way, water world look out.
    tidal and wave generators should also be braught into the mix of power production methods, this would ensure a reasonable continum of power production no matter the situation.

  2. NewWays » Green/C... April 10, 2008 at 4:56 am

    […] via Inhabitat. […]

  3. Floating Garden «... September 30, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    […] a sustainable design blog, chose to bring our attention yesterday to the Science Barge. Currently floating off of Pier 84 in Hell’s Kitchen, the barge […]

  4. Gotham Gazette - The Wo... September 28, 2007 at 4:23 am

    […] a sustainable design blog, chose to bring our attention yesterday to the Science Barge. Currently floating off of Pier 84 in Hell’s Kitchen, the […]

  5. michelle luhan September 24, 2007 at 3:25 pm


    i was wondering how one would go about arranging for a class trip to your location. my kids go to a k-12 public school on the lower east side and i think it would be a fabulous experience for all.
    look forward to hearing back.


    Michelle luhan nordberg

  6. Abigail September 14, 2007 at 8:01 am

    Dear Tanya –

    There are currently some inspiring urban garden projects underway on green roofs in NYC’s five boroughs. You might enjoy looking at the following websites for more information:

    Earthpledge: (Their “greening gotham” link did not work on my browser, though).

    The Gaia Institute of NY: (See the “photos” link). They have also developed a great lightweight soil for rooftop gardening.

    Best wishes,


  7. Ro September 14, 2007 at 5:37 am

    Tanya, I think it’s done before, but I wonder what the impace would be if you would do that to every possible roof in New York for example. Than it would make a good impact, I’m sure!

    I really like the idea of the barge, but I think things could be better integrated. The container on deck could go below deck, saving space for example. If this could be expanded to a larger scale (linking barges together?) it could become awesome!

  8. Richie September 14, 2007 at 1:58 am

    As far as growing on roofs are concerned… think temporary fold up bleacher seating at parades or high school basketball games. On the bench planks secure ‘earth boxes’ and grow stuff.

  9. Tanya September 13, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    Wow- that is awesome!
    I wonder, has anyone thought of putting urban gardens on a green roof? Why not combine two needs into one solution – obviously it won’t work for everyone, but it could be a good alternative for some situations.

  10. Abigail September 13, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    Dear Asa:

    This is a REAL picture of a REAL LIVE project. You can actually visit and tour the Science Barge here in NYC:

    Best wishes,


  11. Asa September 13, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    If its real AWSOME
    if its CGI, build it!

  12. Asa September 13, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    is this a real picture or a CGI? I cant tell anymore

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