While many Americans are beginning to to integrate urban farming into their daily lives, none have as ambitious of an idea as Christopher Toole, an ex-banker who cashed in his “six-figure salary at Sovereign Bank in 2010 to immerse himself in the principles of urban agriculture and aquaponics,” according to an article in DNAinfo.com.

South Bronx, courtesy of yadontunderstand.com

Toole is raising tilapia as well as basil, mint and other leafy greens through an adventurous aquaponics system he and his girlfriend developed in South Bronx, a borough of New York City considered the poorest district in America, according to New York Magazine. Aquaponics is a system of growing plants through the use of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics.

According to the article in DNAinfo.com, Toole has set up his aquaponics shop in an area known as The Point, which is “a community development organization housed in a converted parking garage near the Bronx River and the Hunts Point Terminal Market.”

He is attempting to raise tilapia in trash receptacles and each week he brings in lower income students from the neighborhood and teaches them how to raise their own food sustainably through hands-on, real world experience with his aquaponics system. Eventually, according to the article, Toole would like to teach others how to implement the aquaponics system in a venture he has termed “permaponics, which combines aquaponics with design techniques aimed at creating self-sustaining farms that do not rely on outside infrastructure.”

As of yet, the 500 tilapia that Toole began raising in 2010 have been sold or eaten and he hopes it will only be the beginning of his urban farming quest. In the article he was quoted as having said, “give a person some fish, and you start a self-perpetuating cycle of education and growth. This is urban survival and we’re waking people up to it.”

— Written by Katie Kelley, Social Media Intern, Winter 2011

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