Hydroponic Garden Update by Charlie Walker EDI’21 and Olivia Danielson EDI’21

Design Change: In 2018, all of the EDI Fellows were given a design challenge proposed by Jarod Haley, a 2020 Chesapeake Bay Fellow. This challenge was to create a prototype of an hydroponic garden. This garden would be used to grow plants which would be given to local food shelters. While the original project was to create a hydroponic garden, it has since been changed to be built as an aquaponic system. An aquaponic system is a system which utilizes nutrients produced from fish in order to grow plants. These nutrients are sent into the water in which the plants rest on, resulting in the growth of these plants. This change requires several changes to be made to the initial design.

On May 7th, Olivia Danielson ‘21 and I presented our project to the other EDI Fellows. We have created numerous CADs (computer assisted designs) for the project and are currently attempting to find a functional, safe, and energy efficient design to move this project into the building phase. Throughout all of our prototypes, we have encountered many problems regarding the design. The current design stands approximately 4 feet tall and uses gravity to pump the fish nutrients into the plant beds. This design, however, could have many potential problems due to its height as well as its requirement for electricity. In order to be built without the need of professional assistance, the structure must be under ~5 feet tall. Along with this problem, the structure requires a helpful amount of electricity to pump the water from the bottom layer back into the top.

Due to the problems from the current design, Olivia and I have been brainstorming an easier to build, simpler design which eliminates both its unneeded height and electricity dependence. This design will most likely be simplified into a square with tiers which each contain one of the three components needed for an aquaponic garden. If this design is approved, the building phase will be started shortly after.