8. New York City’s oldest aquaponics urban farm can be found in Bushwick
Amid Bushwick’s bodegas and warehouses lies an urban oasis known as Oko Farms. Previously occupying an abandoned lot, Oko Farms lies at the intersection of Moore and Humboldt Streets. In 2013, Oko Farms became New York City’s first and only publicly accessible aquaponics farm, named after Orisa Oko — the Yoruba deity of agriculture. Through aquaponics, a closed cycle between fish and plants is created, whereby the animal’s excretion is used as plant nutrients. In doing so, the plants filter the toxic waste from the water. Given that 70% of the world’s freshwater is used for industrial agriculture, aquaponics significantly cuts down water usage — giving farmers a more sustainable method to grow their crops.
Oko Farms grows an assortment of flowers and herbs that range from onions and cucumbers to basil and mint. In the past, the farm experimented with using freshwater prawns to help grow beans and peppers. Oko Farms also has a second location at North 3rd and River Street in Williamsburg, where all of the organization’s educational workshops and formal tours take place.