“The design and siting of its planters, market and community room welcome neighbors in to experience its vibrant teaching mission.”
The project will expand the food production capacity of Nile Valley Aquaponics, a community center that offers year-round access to locally grown vegetables and mercury-free fish. The organization also provides low-income youth with opportunities to learn about aquaponics through lessons, field trips and mentoring.
Aquaponics is a gardening technique in which fish and plants grow and thrive together. Modeled after the natural ecosystem, this symbiotic technique uses 90 percent less water than traditional methods of growing food crops in soil. Waste from the fish feeds the plants while nutrients from the plants filter into the water and return to the fish tank. This closed-loop system produces healthy, organic food by avoiding the use of any chemical fertilizers, pesticides or mercury.
Adding two new greenhouses on the existing site will double the annual harvest to 50,000 pounds of fish and 70,000 pounds of vegetables. Designed as a modern kit of parts, the new greenhouses will be constructed with economical, sustainable and easily procurable materials to promote the use of this model in other cities.
The new facility also incorporates a marketplace, a chicken coop, beehives, rainwater collection cisterns, a wind turbine and raised garden beds. Community gathering spaces, including an event area, harvest tables and a shaded protected terrace provide neighbors and visitors with opportunities to relax and learn.
To increase the visibility of Nile Valley Aquaponics in the community, the design incorporates high-impact graphics that showcase the organization’s mission and educate visitors on the value of creating a community around healthy, environmentally friendly food. The facility will also serve as a sustainable economic development model for similar sites nationwide.
.7 acres / .28 hectares
AIA Central States – Excellence in Unbuilt Architecture Honor Award
9 October 2017
“Nile Valley Aquaponics Earns AIA Central States Honor Award”