Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Photos from BUILD 01

Prepping the site and creating in-ground beds.

Site grading - tougher than it looks!

Laying poly sheet to keep any sand out! 

Laying insulation, block, and sand dry-set. 

Our finished platform for the greenhouse!

Friday, May 25, 2012

A new partnership with The Aquaponics Store!

Hi Everyone,

We have joined forces with the Aquaponics Store based out of Denver Colorado. If you purchase any DIY aquaponics supplies by visiting the online store through or link on the blog sidebar, we'll receive 10% commission!

Sylvia and Alan Bernstein have agree do give The Productive Collective an educational discount on everything that we order through the store as well!

Click here to visit theaquaponicstore.com and help us raise money with your purchase!

Materials Delivered!

Bobby and I met the delivery from Waldo Brother's this morning and got everything in place on site for Sunday's first BUILD Day. Bobby and Nataka will arrive at 8am with (6) shovels, (2) wheel barrels, rakes and a ground tamper. PC members are invited to arrive after 9am, and volunteers will arrive between 11 and 12!

PC crew, lets make sure we all update the tools document today and tomorrow.

Here are a few photos from this morning. Can't wait until Sunday folks!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Materials ordered!

Hi Team, 

Between 11-1 tomorrow, we will have $1,000 worth of sand, gravel, insulation, cmu block, and plastic sheeting delivered to 32 Lindsey Street. We received a small discount (only about $35) from Waldo Brothers, but they are very interested in supporting us in the future and will increase the discount with every order we make. 

As you may know, this represents about 50% of the money we have for the project, and the other 50% will cover the aquaponics system kit not including cross country shipping. That said, we will have everything in place to start growing plants and fish! Its critical that we each do our best to fund raise or identify additional granting opportunities.

It looks like we'll have a couple days of dry weather leading into the weekend and a 30% chance of AM showers on Sunday.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

BUILD Day 01, May 27 confirmed!

So, if you want to help the Productive Collective, it's now time to step up to the plate! 

Join us on Sunday May 27 11am at our Lindsey Street site [a 10 minute walk from Fields Corner on the Red Line] for our first BUILD day. Be prepared to work with your hands [and maybe your feet] and get a little muddy. We will be prepping the site and laying a dry CMU foundation for our greenhouse and aquaponics system. We will also be constructing a secure job box to store materials. We will provide all of the materials and tools, along with expert safety supervision, but you might want to bring gloves and a water bottle.

Please fill out our volunteer survey with 'BUILD DAY 01' in the 'comment' section by Friday the 25 so that we know whether to expect you. We'll send out an email to that group with more 'day of' specifics. Don't forget to keep up with our blog for the latest and greatest!

Thanks for your interest and your help, and looking forward to seeing you onsite...

The Productive Collective

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dewey Demonstration Gardens

So today walking back from lunch, I was crossing the Greenway and happened upon the Dewey Demonstration Gardens. The project is composting, growing edible plants, etc, and is working with a variety of local organizations, including Youth Build Boston. They have great signage, with QR codes if you want more info. Their storage shed was also pretty great - a series of short containers that also have green roofs and provide an armature for vertical growing. This project is a good precedent for us in many ways - its commitment to education [both of students and of the public], urban growing, and connections to local markets - anyone want to meet me here for a field trip and lunch at the Momogoose or BBQ foodtruck? 

More info here, and video here.

- Marilyn.

GOOD features theoretical aquaponics installations for the masses to oggle

GOOD recently ran an article on aquaponics that is making the rounds.  

The geodesic dome concept has been in the frontal lobes of many of the Productive Collective's members after a recent trip to Montréal:

Aesthetically and scientifically, spheres have a lot of stuff going for them.  Are large scale aquaponic installations destined for this type of enclosure?  Ask us in a few years...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Aquaponics Conferences

Exciting news for our team! Our project has been accepted to be presented at the first Urban Agriculture Summit in Toronto, August 15-18. Up to three Productive Collective members are invited to discuss the unique aspects of our urban farming project and we will be meeting many like minded people to learn more about these types of initiatives. Who wants a ride? 

Also, I'm really interested in this conference in Denver in late September but will be in Virginia for a UVA Alumni Council Meeting. Anyone interested in attending and learning more about our craft? It includes farm tours, information sessions and special guest Murray Hallam - who we all know and love from the goofy aquaponics videos I have shared with you!

Urban Food Deserts

White House Chef on Food-Desert Fight

I just read an interesting article and interview with the White House chef and food adviser, Sam Kass, on how access to fresh foods makes better and healthier communities. The issue is more nuanced than just adding grocery stores to neighborhoods, though - and as usual, it's getting all bogged down in politics. C'mon folks, let's just focus on bringing the veggies to the people!

[Seems like small neighborhood interventions could be just the answer - right guys?]

Read the article here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

solar site analysis, complete!

Dan has completed a fantastic set of solar studies to optimize the location of our greenhouse on site. The design team should discuss this study with Nataka and Bobby before they begin in-ground planting, to determine if this would be an appropriate siting.

I have added the full study to the DOWNLOADS section on the sidebar, and you can also access it here in this blogpost. Thanks Dan!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

platform design

The current idea for the 16' x 16' platform is a composition of rigid insulation and dry-set block that will act as a thermal mass. A geotextile layer underneath will prevent the sand dry-set from mixing with the soil below when the structure is relocated. Our greenhouse enclosure could then be designed to slip over the 7" curb around the perimeter of the pavers. I built this system into our rhino model to tally up the block count and material costs.

concrete block (288) @ $1.25/ea = $360
1" rigid insulation (16) 2'x8' sheets @ $9/ea = $145
geotextile 4' x 100' roll (1) @ $50/ea = $50
sand (10) 50 lb bags @  $3.34/ea = $35
+ rental of a tamper tool/some ingenious soil leveling system. (rolling barrels?)
+ rental truck (or delivery)

I would really like to find an alternative to Home Depot. Procuring these materials from HD would exceed $600. This platform is easily assembled with a team and would be fairly stable, but only marginally mobile. The re-use of the material is high.

Anyone want to help find these materials from a different source? Other thoughts about the platform design?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Save That Stuff (site visit)

Lauren, Marilyn and I went down to Charlestown today to visit President Erik Levy of 'Save That Stuff' for a tour of his facility. The place was absolutely inspirational and provided us with many ideas for material re-use in the project. We'll be working with Erik more closely in the future for sure... our enclosure design team already has some great ideas cooking...

Friday, May 4, 2012

The PC Volunteer Form

Its very exciting to hear about all of the volunteer interest around our pilot project!

Dan just generated a volunteer form through google docs. I've added it to the LINKS section on the sidebar, but you can fill it out via this link as well. Enter your information or follow our blog to be sure that we can stay in touch.

We're still in the design and purchasing stages now, but there is always a  crew out at Lindsey street over the weekend that could use a hand.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Over the past few weeks I have been able update our project costs, size our aquaponics system, and source all of the components. This particular system utilizes (3) 275 gallon IBC totes (two are cut in half) and runs on a 75 watt pump. It will feature (3) 100 gallon grow beds that are roughly 4'x4', a 275 gallon fish tank, and a sump container which houses the water pump. We could potentially build offshoots to the sump for fish fingerlings, duckweed trays (excellent fish food), or seedling pots. I'm hoping to source the IBCs from Ebay or Craigslist this week, and to purchase the plumbing components this weekend.

I generated a quick 3D model and we can definitely fit this within our 15'x15' greenhouse enclosure but it may be nice to have a bit more room. Lauren will be generating a 3d model based on our site survey and we will pass that along to Dan for solar analysis.  


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tooling up!

Hello Folks,

Marilyn did a fantastic job of starting this blog for us. Please add your email to the 'Follow Us' box on the sidebar to receive updates on any posts to the blog. Also, be sure to post so we can start to establish our presence on here and use it as a tool. Please feel free to make suggestions as everything is starting to take shape. A few other things to note:

You'll notice that I've updated the grant materials and made them available as a download on the site.

You'll also notice that for the WHO section, Marilyn has designed a template which will showcase each PC member. Please email me a headshot so that we can construct this for the site.

Nataka, could you post one or two of the best group pictures to the blog so that I can use it for the grant materials?

Would anyone be interested in meeting this weekend?