Environment & Public Space

The Science Barge: an urban sustainable farm & education center

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The Science Barge is a self-sustaining floating farm and environmental education center that will provide an urban link to fresh produce, marine conservation and sustainability. The Barge’s goal is to promote ecological sustainability through public demonstration, education and research projects related to the urban waterfront. In particular, its ability to grow crops without soil in a hydroponic greenhouse powered by solar panels, wind turbines, and biofuels, makes learning about sustainability and conservation tangible in an innovative and exciting way.

The Barge is a showcase for efficient, sustainable system designs that have positive impacts on our natural resources.

 

Air: The Science Barge will be run on 100% renewable energy, with no emissions a net zero carbon footprint. 80% of the Barge’s energy needs are met by collecting solar energy on a 12-panel, passive-tracking photovoltaic setup. Five on-site wind microturbines meet the remaining energy needs, with backup provided by a biodiesel generator powered by waste vegetable oil (often secured from local restaurants). Finally, growing and providing local produce, as well as sustainably farmed locally indigenous fish, reduces farm-to-plate miles and the air pollution associated with food transport.

 

Water: The Science Barge’s hydroponic system uses up to 10 times less water than traditional agricultural systems. A rainwater catchment system with the capacity to store 1200 gallons is backed up by a reverse osmosis system that can desalinate seawater when necessary. All water used to feed plants is recirculated, ensuring that no excess nutrients are added to rivers and bays. The Barge utilizes a variety of natural feedstocks and recycled substrates to fertilize plants, and deploys biological pest control to kill harmful pests, eliminating chemical water contamination.

 

Land: Hydroponics does not require any soil and uses up to 20 times less land than traditional agricultural systems. Our systems can increase productivity even further by capitalizing on vertical space through a vertically-integrated-greenhouse system.

 

Waste: The Barge features a range of composting and recycling methods to demonstrate the efficacy and ease of these systems. The shipping container can be outfitted with a composting toilet. Our vermaculture, aerated composting system and onboard constructed wetland system not only help reduce waste, but provide teaching opportunities for those interested in implementing these systems at the individual or school-building scale.

 

Education: Our curriculum creates an intimate and tangible opportunity for students grades K-12 to engage with STEM topics through the physical sciences. Educational programming incorporates all learning styles through dynamic hands-on activities, visual representations, and spoken guided directions. Students will learn the physics of energy and storage, the chemistry of natural systems, the biology of plant nutrition and natural pest management, the ecological science of finite natural resources, and the social entrepreneurship needed to drive environmentally friendly behaviors globally.

 

Location: The Science Barge will be located on the water at a public park along Biscayne Bay, adding value to the park without compromising any of the parks limited green space. The Barge’s location in a park will allow visitors, some who have never accessed the waterfront, the opportunity to be out on the water. This location will allow students to test and evaluate water samples using the scientific method, grow barnacles, and use scoop nets and microscopes to discover microorganisms living in the Bay. Additionally, students will learn about native South Florida marine species through discussions on aquaponics, coral reefs, and conservation efforts.

Who are you?

CappSci is a non-profit foundation located in Coconut Grove. Our mission is to apply science to challenges of global significance and solve them by combining people, knowledge, and capital.

How does this project impact the issue you selected?

The Science Barge will activate underutilized waterfront & add value to a public park without compromising any green space. The Barge produces food in the urban core using renewable energy & a closed-loop water system, which preserve air & water quality by reducing the trucking of food & eliminating runoff into waterways. The Barge will serve as model for South Florida as a leader in renewable energy & sustainable agriculture, with the ultimate goal of spurring investment & jobs.

What data points from The Our Miami Report does your project address?

The Barge strives to be net zero & will preserve air quality by producing no emissions. All fresh water is re-circulated, ensuring that no nutrients pollute Biscayne Bay. All waste on the Barge is recycled, composted or repurposed encouraging the implementation of these practices in daily life. Taken together, these technologies embody an ecologically conscious approach to food & energy production that, when adopted globally, can slow climate change and mitigate the threat of sea level rise.

Please give examples of your project's success.

The Miami Science Barge expands upon the highly successful NY Science Barge, designed by CappSci founder, Dr. Ted Caplow. Now in its 7th year, the Science Barge has hosted tens of thousands of students and public visitors and appeared in National Geographic, Science, and the Economist, among others. Dr. Caplow’s original design will serve as our model, but adapted to Miami’s sustainability and environmental challenges. A local advisory panel will be led by Dr. Kenny Broad of UM’s RSMAS.

Organization Name (or individuals name) CappSci

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