Enlightenment in the Food System Lab

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

“Before I started at the Center for a Livable Future,” says Kenai McFadden, “I didn’t even know what a food system is.”

A Bloomberg School graduate student focusing on Health Education and Health Communication, Kenai’s full-time field placement at the Food System Lab has piqued new interests and expanded the way he thinks about community health.

The Food System Lab is an urban teaching farm in Baltimore City that operates on the grounds of Baltimore’s Cylburn Arboretum. Read More >

CLF Aquaculture News: November 2017

Dave Love

Dave Love

Associate Scientist, Public Health & Sustainable Aquaculture Project

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

The largest aquaponics facility in the world opened this summer in Northfield, Wisconsin, owned by Superior Fresh LLC. The facility houses 40,000 square feet of Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout production using recirculating aquaculture methods and is expected to produce its first harvest in 2018. The fish waste is circulated through a 120,000 square foot greenhouse used to raise plants hydroponically. The facility expects to employ 50 people. Dr. Chris Hartleb, Professor of Fisheries Biology at University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, will be working closely with the firm as part of a business-academic partnership. Read more at the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. Read More >

CLF Aquaculture Links: January 2017

Dave Love

Dave Love

Associate Scientist, Public Health & Sustainable Aquaculture Project

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Recirculating aquaculture is expanding in many parts of the United States and the stories below give a taste of where, how, and why this growth is taking place. In Iowa, a third-generation farming family stopped raising pigs commercially due to low market prices and converted their barn to raise barramundi, a high-value fish that has its roots in Australia. Read more at Mother Jones. In New York, a shuttered tilapia farm is being reopened under new ownership as a salmon farm. Read More >

Wriggling out of the Fishmeal Crisis

Linda Zajac

Linda Zajac

Freelance Journalist

Hartford County, Connecticut

FishFoodWater laps gently against the canoe as Felix paddles across Lake Volta. Once he reaches the floating cages, he scoops some pellets that look like typical fish food and sprinkles them over the water. Hungry tilapias dart to the top. They gobble the beads in such a frenzy the surface of the water erupts like a fountain.

Felix is feeding fish as part of a research study in Ghana. The tilapia fingerlings in this one-month growth trial have been divided into four groups. Felix feeds one group by tossing them a cupful of typical tilapia food enriched with vitamins, minerals, wheat, poultry by-products and fishmeal. The other three groups feast on the same feed, but instead of fishmeal, they get varying amounts of insect meal. Like fish, insects can be converted into a high-protein, high-energy feed.

Fingerling Food in Ghana

Read More >

Lessons Learned: Aquaponics in Baltimore

Kate McCleary

Kate McCleary

Senior Project Coordinator

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

RS2880_Aquaponics_224-scrAfter two years of daily measuring, monitoring, feeding, and harvesting, three researchers felt like they’d reached an understanding of how their aquaponics facility really worked. With a new study, “Energy and water use of a small-scale raft aquaponics system in Baltimore, Maryland, United States,” the authors describe the relationship between inputs (energy, water, and fish feed), outputs (edible crops and fish), and operating conditions for their Baltimore-based facility. Basically, authors Dave Love, Michael Uhl and Laura Genello asked, What resources does it take to maintain an aquaponics facility and how could the system be optimized for profit? Read More >

How to Comprehend a Fish

Catherine Kastleman

Catherine Kastleman

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Tilapia at the CLF Aquaponics facility.

Tilapia at the CLF Aquaponics facility.

“I learned more about fish than I ever imagined I would in my lifetime.”

This is the answer that I sometimes give to my friends when they ask me what it is exactly I was doing as a Research Assistant here at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. And despite how it may sound at first, it was some of the most exciting academic work I have ever had the opportunity to undertake.

Over the past few months, under the guidance of my supervisor, Dr. David Love, I analyzed data on the production and consumption Read More >

From Soil to Water and the Future of Sustainable Food

Laura Genello

Laura Genello

Guest Blogger

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

baby cucumbersOne of my first experiences on a farm opened my eyes to the fascinating interconnectedness of an agricultural system. For this reason, I find it truly rewarding to share in people’s excitement when they visit the aquaponics project. It was on that first farm visit that I realized agriculture meant more than growing a head of lettuce in a faraway field; it meant growing and nurturing a community of organisms, from the chickens that fertilize the soil to the microbes that break down their waste and the people that consume the food. Aquaponics takes these relationships out from hiding. Read More >

Recirculating Farms Coalition Awarded USDA Farmers of Tomorrow Grant

Julia Ramsey

Julia Ramsey

CLF Guest Blogger

Recirculating Farms Coalition

USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden during a visit to Recirculating Farms Coalition.

At the Recirculating Farms Coalition, we continually work to support development of and collaboration in water-based, eco-efficient farms—and on February 2, we got some very exciting news!

We’ve been awarded a New and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support training and mentoring for urban farmers in innovative growing methods like recirculating hydroponics, aquaculture and aquaponics, combined with traditional soil-based farming. AND the announcement came with an in-person visit from USDA’s Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden and various USDA staff from Louisiana and Washington, DC! Read More >

Reflections on Urban Farming and Aquaponics

Olivia Chalkley

Olivia Chalkley

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

2015-olivia-chalkley-babygoat

Olivia on a farm with baby goat.

Urban farming was my one and only obsession in high school: the first idea I could latch onto, and eventually commit to as a passion. The problem was, for a while at least, that I didn’t know much about it. It started with a tenth grade field trip to an urban homestead-style garden in Hampden, where beautiful people in cool clothes wandered amongst the beautiful plants they’d grown for themselves. Soon I was following a bunch of blogs that provided me with pages of similar imagery. But it was just imagery. I figured I could get some dirt and floral shorts and I would be well on my way. I didn’t actually set foot on a farm again until the end of my senior year of high school. Read More >

Why Tilapia? Species Selection at the Aquaponics Project

Laura Genello

Laura Genello

Guest Blogger

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

IMG_0853Tilapia is one of the most commonly raised fish species in aquaponics systems, but it is not universally desirable among consumers. Why is it that tilapia is such a common choice, and why are we raising them at the CLF Aquaponics Project?

  1. Tilapia are hardy. Really hardy. In the aquaculture industry they have a reputation for being very difficult to kill, especially compared to more finicky species such as trout. They can survive wider ranges in pH, temperature, and ammonia than many other fish species, and they quickly adapt to varying conditions. Read More >