The Aqua Zoom project consists of installing an aquaponic greenhouse in the SAC Anjou family house garden in in order to realize educational workshops linked to sustainable development and healthy eating. Aquaponics is the fusion of aquaculture (the farming of fish or other aquatic organisms) and hydroponic production (growing plants in water enriched with minerals). Basically, it means growing plants in symbiosis with fish.
Why choose to farm fish with vegetables in the middle of the city? It’s simple. Because one nourishes the other and vice versa in a true symbiosis. Plants will grow directly in water and the nutrients that they need to grow will be provided by the fishes’ waste. In turn, the plants will purify the water that will be returned to the fish basin. It is a virtuous loop that is both ecological and economical in terms of transportation and energy. The greenhouse will save an extremely large amount of money each year.
Inspired by a conclusive experiment in the US and Australia where aquaponics proved its worth, the SAC Anjou family house wanted to start developing an urban aquaponic greenhouse. This innovative project will be a space that allows the community to explore connections between personal, collective and environmental health. In addition to Anjou setting an example for other boroughs in terms of innovation, the Aqua Zoom project has garnered interest from researchers from the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), as well as Concordia University.
Urban agriculture is becoming more and more a part of Montreal’s landscape. As well as producing fruits and vegetables, this practice has the interesting potential to weave new social links into the neighbourhood, the landscape, the food cycle, the seasons and the environment. Whether renter or landlord, balcony gardener or urban farmer, employed or retired, enjoying the pleasures of gardening encourages people to adopt healthy lifestyles while allowing for a culture that is involved, ecological and participatory to emerge. The sense of wonder that comes from a simple act of planting, maintaining and harvesting provides children many opportunities to discover, learn and taste.
In collaboration with schools, communities and universities, a space will be allotted to developing an educational aquaponic greenhouse. A greenhouse will be installed for the creation of educational workshops whose main theme is sustainable development and health eating. Several modules will reflect the key topics of aquaponics, community composting and even eco-responsibility. The greenhouse’s role is to welcome young people, particularly by promoting collaboration with neighbouring schools which will also help make them more aware of sustainable development.
The entire annual harvest of fruits and vegetables will be given to a local food bank. Mini aquaponic systems will be provided to schools for classroom learning. We can transmit simple values such as healthy eating and ecology through various workshops on topics like aquaponics, vermicomposting or biodiversity.
In the first year, equipment will be installed and the project will be launched. We will first familiarize ourselves with this kind of growing through educational activities. Then, once fruit and vegetable production is properly mastered, we can provide harvested products to the Anjou food bank 365 days a year.