The Root Center, a pending non-profit, is building a solar-heated aquaponic greenhouse in Vermont Park. Dubbed “Garden of the Future,” the project will house a sustainable fish pond and aquaponic vegetables. The Root Center’s mission is to provide food, water, shelter, energy and community, and the food the greenhouse produces will supply local food banks and schools.
The 45-foot domed greenhouse sits on half an acre of land leased from the National Gardening Association. Using only fish food and seedlings to start, the team will install a fish pond in the center of the self-sustaining dome. Bacteria will act as a pH regulator in the pond, and the water containing fish poo will be siphoned to the plants, providing not just water but also natural fertilizer. The fruit, vegetables and flowers grown are essentially organic, as is the fish farm, but there are no organic certification regulations for organic crops grown without soil via aquaponics.
In addition to producing organic food, the whole compound will be powered by renewable energy – passive solar technology and vertical axis windmills will produce electricity for the dome. They also plan to use waste to produce even more energy. The pond will begin construction in May, and it will also function as an educational community center run by Root Center employees WWOOF and other volunteers. It is anticipated to yield 20,000 lbs of organic produce for the needy each year.