Young Entrepreneurs Grow Food From Fish Tanks

Two former business majors are becoming nationally renowned farmers. I'm not kidding—Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez, who studied investment banking and consulting (at UC Berkley no less), have committed themselves to farming in your own home. After learning coffee grounds were enough to grow their own organic mushrooms, they started off selling mushroom kits at farmers markets in the Bay Area and are now selling “to over 300 Whole Foods nationwide," they said in their Ted Talk last year. A couple years later, they've found room to grow, despite the economy.

Now the recent grads are breaking into the world of aquaponics, a sustainable food production system that combines aquaculture (raising marine life) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water). This process isn't new. Creating symbiotic atmospheres in which plants and marine life are mutually nurturing goes back to Ancient China and the Aztecs. Nikhil and Alex are evolving the system by turning it into a device small enough for a kitchen counter--basically a fishbowl that grows food.

(Source: Aquaponics Garden)

In what might be the most delightful use of poop since elephant dung paper, these tanks take the waste of the fish, and pump it into the plants at the surface. The plants absorb the nutrients from said waste, and then filter the water back into the tank, clean as a whistle. The fish are so thrilled to not swim constantly in their own toilet they lose control of their bladders and the beautiful cycle begins again.

Times is hard, and the job market is about as easy to navigate as the DMV, but these guys are working their butts off to get this project funded through Kickstart.com. Their initial goal was $100K; so far they've raised raised almost $145,000 through pledges, which means they've exceeded their goal and will get the chance to get their business off the ground. This is good news because with these tanks, we can grow our own food and have pet fish without having to scoop their weird poop out with a net. For that, Nikhil and Alejandro, we thank and applaud you.

And so does this fish

Thank you for making my home less toilet-y!

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