Saturday, October 27, 2012

The PC Presents at Feast Mass Tonight!

Hello All,

We'll be visiting The Food Project's greenhouse tonight, presenting our work and seeking donations at this season's Feast Mass! Wish us luck and considering coming this evening unless you've got other ghoulish plans!

The Food Project has built a national model of engaging young people in personal and social change through sustainable agriculture. Each year, we work with over a hundred teens andthousands of volunteers to farm on 40 acres in eastern Massachusetts in the towns and cities of Beverly, Boston, Lincoln and Lynn. 

Their focus is on identifying and transforming a new generation of leaders by placing teens in unusually responsible roles, with deeply meaningful work.

Feast Mass is a recurring dinner party that gives micro-grants to make good ideas happen. During each dinner, people present proposals for creative, community-based projects that need funding.

Everyone votes, and the winner receives a grant funded entirely from the night’s ticket sales.

Friday, October 26, 2012

WApU Davis Updates

We have completed the setup for WApU Davis with some great progress and a bit of trial and error over the past two weeks!

We doubled the system to two beds and replaced our house plants with young vegetables from the local market and even some that we saved from the Davis Community Garden.

Lauren and I added 4 more tropical fish to our system - a few gouramis and also two catfish. They are all quite happy and we have a lot of activity at all levels of the tank - though it seems we do have a bully in the group...

I purchased a larger air pump for the system so that we could include air stones in the planter beds - This has increased the amount of oxygen the plants get while they are feeding on nutrient rich water from the fish tank.

Dan and I installed some additional electrical lighting above each grow bed to insure that the plants are getting enough exposure as the days get shorter! The system seems to be responding well as you can see - mint, chard, and the lettuce seem to be doing great!

Finally, Lauren added some worms from our compost bin to each media basket. The worms assist in breaking down solid fish waste and creating more food for the plants!

Monday, October 15, 2012

City Growers Season Extension

As we continue to fundraise for the aquaponics greenhouse, PC members Bobby and Nataka are doing some great work with their City Growers plots - extending the season with hoop houses! Here's a great post from

Sunday, October 14, 2012

WApU_INMAN: The Hanging Planter System

This is the now-operational system in Inman square. The planters are made from 1L Poland Spring bottles, with baskets set in. Alligator clips allow for easy adjustment. I adapted a design found on:, a great resource for hydroponic vertical gardening.

In total this system will support 12-18 planters, with the remaining bottles supplied by teammates over this coming week. The pump, which has a 6' maximum head height, is doing the job. But an on/off cycle may be out of the picture.

Currently growing: one romaine lettuce (on top) and one cabbage.

We're beginning a new WApU page (see at top) to document the ongoing research in each location, with live feed to the data we're collecting. The page is under construction, but check back soon for more updates.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Garden Pool

This is an amazing setup of aquaponics, hydroponics, aquaculture, permaculture, and poultryculture (chickens) in a swimming pool in Phoenix:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

WApU_Davis: the PC Goes Tropical

As Dan described in a previous post, the Productive Collective is continuing aquaponics research this winter through several versions of Window Aquaponics Units (or WApUs!) in Davis Sq., Inman Sq., and Back Bay at the Boston Architectural College. Here's the latest on our most developed system.

WApU Davis uses a 'solids only' filter (as opposed to a bio or carbon filter) so that we can cultivate the naturally occurring bacteria that break down ammonia (fish waste) into nitrate plant food (nitrate).We are using a pump on a timer (15 min. on/30 min. off, 24 hours a day!) to transport the water from our fish tank to a 'flood and drain' grow bed. The nutrient rich water feeds the plants and returns clean the water!

With the WApU Davis system, we're employing mature house plants. The plants live in baskets filled with an inert clay pebble growing media so that they can be easily rotated to receive maximum sunlight.

*In this photo you can see the intake and return lines as well as the silhouette of the water line and the baskets in the grow bed.

WApU Davis uses a 20 gallon heated tank and it is currently populated with 5 tropical 'community' fish of the Platy and Swordtail varieties. Cute little buggers indeed...

The PC collects temperature, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate data for each WApU daily. WApU Davis is currently experiencing an uptick in ammonia levels and are beginning to see nitrates form in the system after only 5 days!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


The moment we've all been waiting for has arrived: the newest member of the Productive Collective is a Ryukin Goldfish, approximately 1.5" in body length (+ another 1.5" of tail)!

The Ryukin are a Japanese variety dating from the late 18th century, from the Ryukyu Islands, between Japan and Taiwan.
Yes, he is pooping! That's what it's all about.

NAME UPDATE: As an homage to my alma mater, it's only fitting that ryukin's new name is Fumihiko Maki, the architect of two buildings at Washington Unversity's School of Architecture, the Media Lab at MIT, and writer of 'Investigations into Collective Form.'  Thanks to all who voted! there were some great write-ins:
  • fluffy
  • fishie
  • RYU (from streetfighter)
  • zangief
  • Nova (like the Lox :P)
  • ja-poon
  • woof blitzer, ruff ellison, paws cowgill :)
  • Wanda
  • Haduken