Thursday, May 24, 2012

CDC Urban Farm Lab Visit

By Kim Labno
Penn State Extension Philadelphia Master Gardeners Visit the Partnership CDC Urban Farm Lab

Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Partnership Community Development Corporation is a seventeen year old, non-profit neighborhood development organization that has leveraged over $65 million in private investment to assist in the revitalization of the West Philadelphia community since its inception. Their mission is to build strong communities in West and Southwest Philadelphia through securing economic opportunities in the areas of affordable home-ownership, financial education, and commercial corridor revitalization. In the latest initiative to fulfill their mission, Partnership CDC has launched the Urban Farm Lab, which demonstrates the culmination of 3 years of research and development in coupling systems of agriculture, aquaponics and engineering. The Lab is an economically viable example of a food production operation that promises jobs and food security to neighbors.

Master Gardeners had a unique look at the Urban Farm Lab, led by Mike, the lead scientist who is a retired General Electric engineer. The farm raises Tilapia in 2,000 to 4,000 gallon tanks in the basement and the fish wastewater circulates to the tubes on the ground floor, fertigating greens and vegetables including lettuce, basil and tomatoes. The plants absorb nutrients and water as the current flows past the roots in the hydroponic growing system. Routine testing is performed to monitor pH, nitrite and nutrient levels.

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