A Garden Floats in the Anable Basin, LIC

An architecture student wants to bring a hydroponic garden to the East River

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A floating hydroponic garden is a new take on urban farming
As urban farming takes off, one man dreams of a floating hydroponic garden. (Image courtesy of Anable Basin)

We’ve heard of plans for a floating pool in the East River, and we all know that urban farming has been applied to just about any available space in the city, taking gardens and farms to the sky on building rooftops and beyond. Now, a 22-year-old architecture student at The Cooper Union has taken the two concepts—urban farming and utilizing the precious extra space that the river offers—and created an experimental hydroponic floating garden to grace the East River.

Karim Ahmed’s creation, the Waterpod, is a 20-square-foot raft that will sprout sunflowers, kale, corn, and a baby nectarine tree using a water filtration system. Currently anchored at the Anable Basin in Long Island City, the Waterpod takes the concept of chinampas, a farming technique created by the Aztecs that used raised segments of artificially constructed land in lakes or swamps to grow food. While Ahmed’s Waterpod does sit on the water, it’s technically not floating because just like the Aztecs, it’s tethered or anchored, Ahmed’s research proposal says.

The Waterpod was created as an economically and ecologically viable way of growing food and was constructed in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Ahmed says. He began a Kickstarter campaign and partnered up with Boswyck Farms, a hydroponic research, development, and education company based in Bushwick, to build the pod.

As dictated by hydroponics, the Waterpod does not use soil to grow the plants; fresh water is harvested from the rain and filtered out through a one-way valve that keeps the salt water and other chemicals found in the river out.

“This project is important because in the coming years, we need to seriously rethink how we get our food,” Ahmed says in his Kickstarter video. “The current model for agribusiness and mechanized mega farms is neither healthy, environmentally safe nor economically viable. We need to find alternatives to these methods and begin seriously pursuing and implementing new ideas to preserve a future for our food.”

Image courtesy of Anable Basin.