Fish from the sky may sound like pie-in-the-sky, but it’s a real thing, sort of.
And while this design was not an entry in this year’s Buckminster Fuller Challenge, we have no doubt that old Bucky would have appreciated it. Not only does it take on the basic human problem of sustainable food production in an innovative and elegant way, it’s built around Fuller’s most famous invention, the geodesic dome.
Optimized for aquaponic farming techniques — i.e., the fish’s water nourishes the plants, and the plants clean the water for the fish — a single Globe/Hedron has the potential to feed four families of four year round. Via the magic load-distributing properties of the geodesic dome, the load of the fish tank rests on the frame of the greenhouse and is thus redistributed across a larger surface.
Because of this design, the aquaponic farm can be housed on most flat roofs without any structural building adaptation. What’s more, it was designed to be manufactured and sold at a low cost, making it an affordable addition for apartment buildings seeking a built-in community garden.
Water from the fish tank at the bottom of the greenhouse is run through a filter, which separates fish feces from the water (creating, in the process, a fertilizer coveted by organic farmers everywhere). That purified water is then pumped up to the top of the greenhouse, where it’s used to water the first of a series of grow beds; the water then flows down, watering each tiered bed in turn. Those friendly plants clean and filter the water in the process, allowing the water at the bottom of the system to be returned to the fish in the tank.
The device’s designers estimate that this easy-to-set-up greenhouse, optimized for urban roofs, can produce nearly a thousand pounds of vegetables over two growing seasons (a hot season harvest and a cold season harvest) as well as around 220 pounds of fish (salmon, carp, tilapia, trout, and/or grayfish) on an annual basis.