Nestled between a Trader Joe’s and New York City’s East River is Oko Farms, a little hub of greenery in Brooklyn that looks out onto Manhattan’s skyline. Fenced off in the corner of an expansive construction site, it’s not easy to locate.
Past the gates is a 10,000 sq ft plot brimming with beds of lemongrass, cabbage, okra, peas, peppers, tomatoes, leeks, onions, and carrots. They are sprawling patches of greenery, accessed by a narrow wooden walkway that interlaces throughout the property. But unlike most urban gardens, the plant beds have plastic tubes stuck to them. The tubes are connected to large baths of tilapia, carp, catfish, and perch and circulate water between the two.
Oko Farms is New York City’s first outdoor aquaponics farm, combining aquaculture and hydroponics into one recirculating ecosystem. Through her farm, as well as a host of educational and community programs, Yemi Amu, the founder of Oko Farms, wants to teach local residents how simple and beneficial aquaponic farming can be.
“To be able to raise animal protein in a way that is traceable and sustainable, for those of us who live in an urban environment, it closes that gap beautifully.” Amu calls her career in farming an “accident.” Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, Amu came to New York 27 years ago to study nutrition at Columbia University. She later worked at a housing facility for people who previously experienced homelessness and mental illness. It was there that she discovered her passion for farming after finding a small rooftop garden at the clinic.
Read the entire article at the Guardian