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Process Documentation urban market farm

Capstone – Spring 2014 Christian Reichle & Branden Francis

Contents & PROJECT SCHEDULE The Team – Bios


Research Report


Problem Statement User Survey & Testing Project Mentors

Conclusions & Definition (January)


Our Vision Deliverables


Concept iteration (February)


Concept Refinement (March)


Concept Realization (April)



The Team Our collaboration has provided us the opportunity to deepen our exploration and interests in agriculture. By combining the diverse skill sets we possess, we are able to develop a stronger, more well rounded approach to the future of growing food locally.


Christian Reichle (Graphic Design) I am a designer with many interests but my recent focus has fallen in environmental and experiential graphic design. Capstone has allowed for a combination of these practices and others, including permaculture and urban agriculture. I am continually excited by the power of environmental graphics to create an experience for the public specific to the space in which it resides.

Branden francis (Industrial Design) I specialize in design and fabrication, creating practical products that strive to deepen and redefine the relationship between consumer and object. My approach to design and craft is holistic, uniting detail, structure and function with careful consideration towards material and process. The combination of thorough design tactics with contemporary, responsible production methods allows a solution with integrity to be achieved.


Section ONE

Research Report Our research process started long before this final semester. We knew there was a lot to be learned, so we spent time while on co-op investigating different practices, gathering inspiration and brainstorming concept ideas from our respective locations across the country. The following report provides an overview of the research we collected and initial planning for our Capstone project at the University of Cincinnati College of DAAP 2014.


Initial Interests Both of us share enthusiasm in growing food, horticulture and urban agriculture. Conversations about working together for our final capstone surrounded an interest in Aquaponics after being introduced to the practice by a mutual friend, Carl Scott, in Detroit last year. Instantly, we were both very intrigued by the process and were interested in working on a way to bring light onto this topic through a combination of our design approaches. Our research began by looking into creating some sort of turn-key system for a general consumer audience, but our research into the existing aquaponics market (pg. __), system design (pg. ___) and our survey findings (pg. ___) brought us to the conclusion that offering an, “D.I.Y.” or “At-Home” system may not be the best method for promoting and sharing aquaponics. Instead, it seemed more logical to begin the conversation more broadly, informing the public of the existing food market, opportunities within urban agriculture and the values of the aquaponic growing process to provide context for our intent and inform the public on an introductory level to help them become more engaged and understanding of the process. This, ideally, would lead to a population more receptive to this growing methodology and, later on, possibly generate enough interest to lead to the development of a turn key type product. With this in-mind, we decided to step back and research the current food market to help us to generate our own perspective in order to better inform our consumers. The following sections detail some of our research and findings surrounding both the industrial and urban agriculture markets that help to support our food system.


Industrial Agriculture Because our projects’ intended location is to be within the United States, we focused our research specifically on the evolution of our own American industrial agriculture – though it is an ever increasingly global pursuit. We had some rough ideas of what was going on but thought it better to start fresh as we sought to break some bias and present this as purely as we could. Our initial research brought us to some very negative points about Industrial Agriculture and painted a very bleak picture of our current market – one dependent on fossil fuels, pesticides and questionable corporate players. Cheap fossil fuels have allowed us to develop this system and has made it easy to put it out of our minds, while industrial agriculture claims responsibility for 17% of energy consumption in the United States each year. We looked into the history of Agriculture in our country and the inciting factors that lead to a shift from an agriculture based economy to one based in industry and manufacturing. How had this contributed to our lack of connection to nature? And what could be done to help reverse it? We knew humans did not always rely on petroleum nor did we produce food like we do now, so we looked back in history to figure out where the shift happened from human to fuel powered agriculture.

It seems that in the last 100 years they’re have been three major contributing factors to our current system. The first was the Second American Industrial Revolution that brought us into the 1900s and began the shift from a rural, agricultural economy to a more urban, industrial way of life. Population levels exploded and farmers were expected to produce at all new levels, supporting both those at home and 10

those off fighting in each of the world wars. Transportation evolved quickly as the infrastructure grew with innovations such as roads, steamboats, the Eerie Canal, and most notably railroads, that connected previously isolated communities together and allowed for export of goods and services. Prior to this second revolution nearly two thirds of the American population lived in rural communities but by 1913, that very same population had shifted to the urban environment and was producing one third of the worlds industrial output. New wealth opportunities drew a youthful generation to the city and left the farming to a decreasing number of farmers. These farmers though, were now able to access a whole new market and their produce was being shipped nationwide. World War II brought on even more demands and scientists began developing ways to help farmers. The second major factor in the advancement of industrial agriculture came from these scientific advancements. The Haber-Bosch Process as it is known, came about from an experiment conducted by Fritz Haber, a German chemist who was looking for a means of creating synthetic nitrogen. Nitrogen is an essential nutrient to plant growth but is not always readily available in all soil. Air is 78% nitrogen but in its atmospheric form, it is not usable by plants. Haber developed a method to convert the plentiful amounts of atmospheric nitrogen into a form that is nutritionally available, in this case: ammonia. The German chemical company BASF purchased this process from Haber and hired a man named Carl Bosch to increase the scale of production to an industrial level. Large amounts of synthetic ammonia were produced and generated into various types of fertilizers that continue to be used around the world. Scientists claim these fertilizers created from 11

the Haber-Bosch Process have helped to sustain production of food for approximately one-third of Earth’s population. The production process is inherently dependent on fossil fuels as large amounts of energy are required to create the pressure necessary to convert the atmospheric nitrogen. This dependency is not the real problem though. It is the reliance on and pervasive use of these fertilizers that industrial agriculture has employed since there invention. Using synthetic fertilizers has allowed for incredible yields and fed thousands, but continues to severely disrupt the biological habitats in which they are applied. Regardless, many cite the process as a major cause for the extreme population growth we have seen in the last century. The third factor is not one particular occurrence, but instead can be attributed to various agriculture subsidies that have been generated by the U.S. government. The subsidies have helped to supplement farmers’ income, maintain production supplies and control the costs of the food as it reaches the consumer. Essentially they have worked to fill the gap created by extreme population growth and the shrinking number of farmers in our country. In 1950, a single farmer was said to have been responsible for feeding only 28 people in addition to himself and his family.

Today, that number has significantly increased and each farmer is estimated to provide for 150 people and farmers as a whole make up only 2% of the total U.S. population. We have entered a time where fewer farmers are working to provide for more people than ever. This pressure has forced farmers to resort to many of the practices we often hear about when it comes to industrial agriculture. 12

Fossil fuels are an essential to keep up with this demand and play a major role few people recognize in our food journey. Many have long since realized the necessity of diesel powered machinery for cultivation needs like preparing land and planting crops as well as harvesting the crops once they are ready.

What people often forget to consider is the work that is necessary in-between the field and the store Transportation distances are often cited considering the average produce travels 1,500 miles before it reaches the consumer. While this certainly consumes a lot of fuel each year, it is actually one of the smaller consumer of energy in the food journey. Fertilizer production and the processing and storage of market ready produce consume far more. The problem lies simply in the fact that we rely on these modes of transportation to eat and without them, prices of food will increase and food security will quickly become a bigger issue. GMOs or Genetically Modified Organisms have brought the most recent attention to industrial agriculture as many are worried about the lack of testing and regulations that have been placed on the rapidly evolving biotechnology market. Several companies like Monsanto and Cargil have made patents on seed varieties that are less susceptible to disease, pests and weeds to help farmers increase yields and spend less time and energy tending to the crops. These solutions have helped many people have access to food and play a key role, especially in third world countries. Supporters of GMOs hail their success in producing large amounts of food for the growing populations around the world and reducing the resources necessary to run a profitable 13

and productive farm. These are certainly benefits but the real challenge lies in the fact that these products act as a temporary fix rather than a long term solution. While they do produce large amounts of food and reduce the necessary labor, they fail to address bio-diversity issues, soil degradation and erosion that cause many of the problems in the first place. Their health threats are minimal and many of the tests that are cited to prove ill effects have since been disproven. Eliminating GMOs at this point is not feasible but encouraging more well rounded farming practices that address the problems in natural ways rather than those that are chemically or genetically modified are more sustainable going forward.

URBAN Agriculture

A bulletin published by the U.S.D.A. in 1928 urging citizens to start city farms and gardens


Urban agriculture has enjoyed a recent resurgence that has been gaining speed since the late 80s and early 90s. The urban manufacturing job market that came in the early parts of the century began to fade away as factories and unions moved elsewhere. This left countless people out of jobs and resulted in many industrial cities across the united states being littered with abandoned factories, lots and industrial waste. Groups of people are now reconsidering practices that were widely carried out and supported during war time like victory gardens and other urban agriculture projects. Government policy and direction often supported small scale agriculture projects then, and encouraged the public to start farm gardens as a means of cutting food costs and keeping up with feeding the growing population (as


seen in the USDA service announcement on the previous page). Today, such support is few and far between as the tone has dramatically changed from one that encourages involvement to one that sometimes seems to encourage the opposite. Cities often maintain laws that make rain water reclamation practices illegal and limit the use of public and private land for agriculture projects due to zoning limitations. When such land is granted for inner city agriculture, it is often temporary as land owners hold out for more profitable uses of the space. At the same time, citizens are becoming more creative and efficient, utilizing rooftops, warehouse spaces and re-mediating vacant lots riddled with industrial toxins through considerate growing methods. This increase in the presence of farming projects has allowed for hands on education in the realm of self sufficiency, food production and community involvement, despite the time line allotted. Some cities, such as Detroit and New York however, have reconsidered land use policies as a result of persistent interest from the public. This receptiveness from the public is gained through a deeper knowledge base and new found interest in finding connectedness to the origin and process of food growth. Though productive economies of scale are hard to achieve with limitations in space, economic benefits are surfacing as consumer values shift towards supporting locally grown produce. Several models of urban agriculture have formed to accommodate this variance in scale. Some individuals grow on a subsistence level, producing enough for personal or family consumption either on cooperative plots or at home. Other farmers have been challenged to employ innovative methodologies such as rooftop, 16

vertical or indoor growing techniques, to ensure more substantial yields and produce at a commercial scale. The advent of these practices encourages the extension of seasonal availability and has a major influence on the varieties found at market. With cities home to a diverse range of patrons, there are multiple market outlets and in turn greater labor opportunities from smallscale entrepreneurial to large, high-tech commercial operations. Much of the success of urban agriculture though, is dependent on collaborative partnerships between community members. Often times, resources and expertise are found within the boundaries of the city, utilizing what is readily available to reduce the impact of providing food. This network also facilitates greater food security by providing access to fresh food or the ability to learn and grow for one’s self. In addition, reintroducing farming practices into the city has the potential to increase food literacy, creating a healthier, more informed public. Recently, we have seen Aquaponics successfully gain foothold as an alternative approach to growing food in the city. The practice is able to make use of limitations in space and resource availability as it requires one tenth of both the space and water required of traditional, in-soil farming styles. Furthermore, this methodology pushes the envelope in terms of season extension and assortment of vegetables producible, yields efficiently, without the use of industrial fertilizers.


Problem Statement We are beginning to observe the repercussions of current intensive farming practices. As the urban population continues to grow, issues of efficiency, biodiversity and food literacy increase as well. These factors, along with the general uninformed nature of consumers, are leading the market to an unsustainable state. We seek to generate an engaging, low-impact, urban market farm that integrates aquaculture and season extension techniques to provide healthy produce within the local environment directly from our point of growth.



AQUAPONIC MARKET SURVEY We began to research the market and the public image of aquaponics as it stands. I looked into some industry leaders’ websites and video material to see how the information was being disseminated and how accessible it was. Some companies I looked into include: Aquaponic Source: Nelson Pade: Portable Farms: Growing Power: Nor Cal Aquaponics: Aquaponics USA: Bright Agrotech: Grow It Right Aquaponics: Backyard Aquaponics: Friendly Aquaponics: Grow Up: The Farmery: Back to the Roots: This market survey exposed a variety of approaches – to the systems, public representations and information sharing. Most, if not all, of the sites included a vast amount of research, tips, and general information about the method. Many though, reflected the D.I.Y. culture and its varying levels of communication skills. Sites are often very scattered, poorly organized and far too dense for a casual browser to dive into. The success’ in transparency of process and knowledge were lost to a poor representation that lacked the 20

necessary cohesion to provide a convincing sell. We believe a key part of a truly “transparent� company or culture is not only found in openly sharing ones findings and aid, but also presenting it in a clear, concrete manner that will allow for people to consume, digest and use information. Not all the sources were this way though. Some (like Bright Agrotech and Nelson Pade) clearly had fairly knowledgeable and organized web upkeep and were consistently making updates and keeping in contact with followers. Information, though sometimes dense, was fairly well organized and often referenced YouTube tutorials or provided guides for system set up and maintenance. We were able to use this research to not only get a feel for the current market and information available, but also gain a better understanding of what it would take to design and build a system of our own while improving on existing solutions.


Building our own system

We acquired an old hydroponics grow rail and 50 gal. tank to get us started

Initial attempts resulted in failure as we figured out the best materials to use


We decided that after all our research we had gathered about aquaponics, it only made sense for us to try and start a system of our own in order to better understand the process and work through many of the trials and tribulations we had heard of while researching. While building a system may have applied more to our original plan to create a product based concept, developing the system on a small scale would help us to better plan and imagine our conceptual system on a larger scale. We spent the first part of the semester putting together a rather make-shift (though thats how most systems seem to be) system in Christian’s 3rd floor apartment. We acquired most of the major parts of the system for free (50 gal. fish tank, re-purposed grow bed & growing medium) but did not escape several trips to the hardware store to pick up various plumbing and aquarium needs. The initial set up required was far more work than we had expected and the shopping trips revealed how hard and expensive it can be to find all the necessary parts. This struggle confirmed the need for a dedicated individual in order to successfully practice aquaponics. We worked though several solutions to adapt the system to the parts we had and it took 2-3 weeks before we had a functioning system ready for plants and fish. Some things we were researching as we built our system included: various types of growing medium and the benefits/drawbacks of each, cost effective methods for filtering water of chlorine and other chemicals found in tap water, and different ways to supplement system nutrients as the system cycled up. We learned about testing the water and working to maintain water purity in addition to setting the pump cycle to sufficiently supply water and nutrients to the plants. We tried a variety of rock types from

lava, Hydroton and Growstone, each requiring preliminary processing, size selection and a proper cleansing. In the end, a trial was set up to observe differences between the three by placing each of them in our adapted media bed. Growth was consistent across all three; evaluation from there was based on ease of set up, interference with water clarity and weight restrictions. Throughout the season we witnessed slow and inconsistent growth as the microbial ecosystem established itself within the water. During this time, we struggled to maintain a balanced and healthy state for both fish and plants. Initially, our catfish became stressed and ultimately ill as the adolescent plants could not effectively filter the water as much as needed. The tables then turned as we did not have enough fish to produce an adequate amount of nutrients for the plants. There truly is no rapid approach to achieving a balanced system, but in the end, we have seen vigorous growth and have found verification of the struggles that small-scale, at-home aquaponic gardening proves to be.

We eventually came to a functioning setup to help drain our system

After several weeks of trails, we finally introduced catfish into the system...

Along with sprouts of various plants 23

User Survey & testing

Of those surveyed, find the origin of food moderately to highly important

Of those surveyed, find purity of food moderately to highly important


In order to determine public receptiveness to our concept, we conducted a short survey of 75 people of various ages and backgrounds. The ages of those tested ranged from 19-65 years old and users came from a variety of locations – California to Florida. We asked questions pertaining to people’s experience growing vegetables to gain an idea of their level of involvement, questions about their considerations of origin and purity when buying vegetables, and also about their purchasing habits (organic or non.) The majority of responders had little to no experience growing vegetables but clearly placed heavy emphasis on the origin and purity of the food they purchase (as seen in the results to the left). We used the remainder of the survey to focus in on aquaponics. We wanted to get an idea of how many people are already familiar with the process and how many had never heard of it before. Christian also used this as an opportunity to do some user testing on the understanding of preliminary system diagrams intended to explain the process on a basic level. We asked about their knowledge of the process before presenting them a diagram. After the diagram and a brief explanation was presented on the following page we asked about their interest and understanding. Only Twenty percent of those surveyed had ever heard of aquaponics going into our testing but an overwhelming eighty percent understood and found value in the proposed methodology. after gaining further exposure to the concept. We used a free response section at the end of the survey to allow people to propose their questions, concerns and ideas in relation to our topic. The information proved very useful and pointed to a fairly uninformed public audience. Feed back provided clarity as to how to better explain how aquaponics works.

Were familiar with aquaponics before taking our survey

A screenshot from our user survey. Responders were asked a series of questions before being presented with this diagram.

Found social, environmental, economic, or health value in the system


Project Mentors

Seeing as we had a limited expertise of aquaponics and the experience of only a few urban agriculture projects ourselves, we sought after the consideration and advice of a few individuals who had highly skilled backgrounds and were heavily involved in a variety of commercial and non-profit farming organizations. Each played a critical role in the development of our project.



Onsen Farm (Buhl, ID) Contact: James Illomis Located near the geothermal springs of Snake River, this estate strives to create permacultural ways of living through the use of sustainable practices to raise healthy food, provide education and generate awareness of the connectedness of the natural world. James has worked with aquaponics for several years and has just moved to the farm full time to live with his family and install a commercial sized aquaponics system. He helped to validate system designs and provided insight on his previous experiences with aquaponics.

Key Take-Aways: Create a connection for people between the food they are eating and where it came from. Local food is an automatic marketing plus for restaurants and markets alike. Upfront costs are humongous but grants do exist, especially if remediation efforts are in place for the vacant lot being occupied. Fish are also not the money maker in this industry. Materials, fish feed and energy are the three main hurtles in sustainable design here.


CDC Farm & Fishery (Detroit, MI) Contact: Anthony Hatinger A true example of aquaponics existing within the urban environment, Central Detroit Christian’s Farm & Fishery is located on the west side of downtown Detroit. We visited their space which was once a liquor store but was purchased by the organization to be turned into a aquaponic farm. We spoke with the project engineer about his design process and suggestions for our success. We got a tour of their 1,400 sq ft indoor farm where they not only plan to grow herbs and vegetables but are currently breeding talapia to sell for added revenue. We discussed their proposed market strategy as well as public reception

Key Take-Aways:

Don’t put your eggs in one basket. Consider the insulation value of building your fish tanks under ground. WATER IS HEAVY. Reinforce everything, limit the amount of parts and simplify the layout. Also while aquaponics is somewhat autonomous after set up, breeding fish is labor intensive. None the less, community members are receptive and interested in learning the trade, regardless of previous experience.


Waterfields llc. (Cincinnati, OH) Contact: Sam Dunlap & Dan Divelbiss Based out of Lower Price Hill, Sam Dunlap and Dan Divelbiss, operate a for-profit, indoor hydroponic farm specializing in the production of micro-greens for the restaurant market as well as jobs in an impoverished neighborhood. Sam is also our professor for an Urban Agriculture elective we both took this semester through the horticulture department.

Key Take-Aways: Successful urban agriculture programs integrate the surrounding community, it’s not a one man job. Keep your clientele and resource origin diverse and your approach controllable as clients expect you to be consistent and deliver on time. Allow room for expansion and start small.


This-land (Cincinnati, MI) Contact: Braden Trauth Braden is a permaculture specialist that works with both This-Land and his own company: Om Valley Permaculture. He co-taught our Urban Agriculture class with Sam Dunlap this semester and helped us to narrow our concept and the language/information that was included in our research and infographics.

Key Take-Aways:

Braden was a big help in determining the language and tone of our information (specifically the infographic outline. His background in urban agriculture and permaculture helped us compile the facts and background necessary to tell our story.


Section TWO

Conclusions & Definition Coming into the semester, we had collected a lot of information and used the first few weeks to organize our thoughts, narrow down our concept and decide on what it was we wanted to accomplish for the final show in April. We had a lot of ideas and inspiration but needed to figure out what else was required to research in order to best accomplish our goals. The following section outlines the conclusions and decisions we came up with in the first month of focused development and what we found our next steps to be.


Research Conclusions We reflected on all we had learned and our perspective has come to this: We have found ourselves in a long distance relationship with our food. The struggles we are experiencing are similar to ones you might have if a loved one or a significant other moved away and your relationship was suddenly extended over a large geographic distance. As city dwellers, we have come to rely on this distant partner for our day to day needs. Grocery stores have created the illusion of convenience for us, the consumer, with little to no attention given to the large inconvenience it was to get the food and produce to us. In an effort to keep up with our demand, industrial farming has been forced to adopt less eco-conscious solutions to produce more food. Yes, many of their practices are detrimental to the environment and limited resource supplies, but without any outside support, focus on any sort of remediation is hard to come by. Urban agriculture cannot possibly fill the void of industrial production and too often is cited as a cure-all remedy. Instead, it should seek to use resources that are readily available to produce whatever the specific climate/ environment will allow. The solution then, is not to, “break up,� or somehow eliminate Industrial Agriculture. Instead, we need to look for resources of sustenance on a local level in order to enable rural farmers to better focus on their environment and shift focus more towards quality over quantity. This would then allow imported foods to supplement local foods rather than supplant them and create a more balanced, secure food market for an ever expanding urban population. With both partners working independently yet harmoniously, the relationship can thrive despite the distance, and each can develop their own means of sustainable production. This harmonious independence is the key to any good relationship, allowing each party to 33

maintain what it is that defines them while simultaneously building up and helping to define their partner. The goal of aquaponics then (and our project in general), is to seek to expand the possibilities within limitations of the urban environment – thus increasing production on a local scale. We are attempting to design a passive solar greenhouse, skipping any transportation at all, and merging production and sales into our own, “Urban Market Farm.� We are integrating an aquaponics system along with several other sustainable practices (i.e. passive solar, up-cycling, community composting etc.) into our space in an effort to help educate consumers, deepen the relationship they have with their food and promote conscious living through design. Aquaponics is already a successful system, we are simply looking for ways to improve on its functionality and aesthetic while presenting it in an exhibitional manner in order to share its value and viability with the public. The technology inherently lends itself to urban limitations, requiring one tenth of the space and water necessary for traditional, in-soil growing methods and not relying on potentially toxic soil often found as a result of industry practices and expansion. The ability to grow indoors or within other micro-climates allows for expansion of growing seasons and the possibility of producing food year round, further increasing the economic value of such a system. In addition to these systematic benefits, aquaponics provides a unique opportunity for education surrounding both plant and aquatic life. A functioning system is truly a sight to see and if presented in the right way, should incite a high level of engagement on the consumer level. Customers of all ages will find some interest in the process and can leave with a product of our system. Our goal is not to sell our customers on aquaponics as a personal pursuit. First 34

and foremost, we wish to create a conscious consumer that takes ownership and an active interest in the food they eat and their day-to-day ways of life. Like urban agricultures’ relationship to industrial farming, aquaponics is not a cure-all and should not be regarded as such. It is simply an extremely efficient means of alternative food production that can effectively add to local food supply and help offset the reliance on large scale agriculture. Our store and brand will exist under the name, “Propagate” and will attempt to exemplify a merger of urban and traditional farm aesthetic while speaking to the cyclical nature of aquaponics. Up-cycling will drive our material choices and help to define the industrial urban feeling we are after. Scrap wood, concrete and steel are prevalent in the city and careful ingenuity will allow for low-budget solutions both in brand development and structural considerations. We seek to define our namesake, Propagate, in all aspects of our business and use the brand as a means of propagating or gaining new customers and conscious foodies alike. Yes, we will quite literally be propagating plants and growing them for public consumption, but the real goal is to spread and promote our practices and ideals to a consumer audience.


Our Vision Propagate is an urban market farm intended to provide fresh produce, directly to market in an effort to deepen the relationship consumers have with their food and promote conscious living through design. We provide education regarding urban agriculture through an immersive aquaponics greenhouse. We believe this practice is a strong alternative growing method due to its low impact, high productivity and adaptability to the urban environment.


Design Criteria Developing some design criteria helped us direct our project and better explain our mission statement. We chose to focus on categories of the social, environmental, and economic realm and will use these to qualify the success of our process and final design. The design criteria are as follows:

Interactive & Informative (social) Space should be accessible and functional for both farmers and consumers. Process should be transparent and exhibitional in manner – a demonstrative model of contemporary approaches to urban agriculture.

Low Impact (environmental) Resource acquisition and conservation are key elements in making this practice more sustainable. Materials and supportive local infrastructure should be considered. Incorporate principles inherent to the natural world.

Productive (economic) System will function via a self-sustaining, microclimate suitable for the production of produce at a profitable scale.


Deliverables As the semester began, we narrowed down the deliverables we thought would best represent our concept and meet the requirements of each of our majors. These helped to set goals and milestones as we began concepting.

Graphic Design – Christian Brand Identity Environmental Graphics (Infographic Set)

Industrial Design – Branden Site Design Aquaponic System Design



Section Three

Concept Iteration Once we had narrowed down our direction and determined the deliverables, we began concepting for the various elements we needed. Based on our direction decision, there was some extraneous research that needed to be done while Branden began determining system layout & function.


Goals for february Graphic Design – Christian Gather inspiration for branding and environmental language Establish visual aesthetic Logo mark concepting Outline Infographics Complete any extraneous research necessary

Industrial Design – Branden Determine material pallet Ideate system layout Explore retail elements Consider construction techniques Analyze research findings


Aesthetic Direction


The space and brand should work cohesively to portray that same merger. Colors should reflect both the warm earth tones of stone or wood, and the cool industrial tones found in the urban space. People should also play a prominent role to acknowledge the force behind any successful urban agriculture project.


Graphic Inspiration


Our vision of the brand was that it portray a merger of farm-traditional and the urban environment. I was drawn to combinations of script and traditional typefaces to allude to this combination and handdrawn or hand crafted may also be a good fit.





Initial logo Direction Preliminary concepting (shown on the previous page) led to this initial direction. We were drawn to using the “P� as a iconic mark that could exist with or without the name attached. The circular form was intended to relate to the flowing cycle of aquaponics. While the form does show this relationship, it flows only into itself and seemed to defeat our desire for a progressive and forward-moving methodology.



Color considerations We chose some of our aesthetic imagery to base preliminary color schemes off of. We were looking to develop a palette that included enough contrast to work for the various illustrations we were looking to develop and simultaneously support our desired aesthetic.


Type considerations We considered a variety of typefaces that also matched our intended look and feel. Combinations of strong sans serif (to represent the industrial aesthetic of cities) and a serif (to relay a traditional farm feeling) seemed most appropriate to speak to this merger we were after.


Infographic Outlines We decided an infographic explaining the current food system and what aquaponics is was the best starting point for our environmental graphics. We outlined each section to narrow down what information we wanted to share.

Context Paragraph:

Context Paragraph:


- Utilization of resources available at a local level - Self sufficiency - A lot can be achieved in a small space and ability to grow indoor extends the growing season

What is it?

- Majority of population resided in rural areas into WWII era - Industrial Boom - Labor & methodology shifted left the farm for the city - Separation of urban & rural ag distanced consumers from origin and farming know-how - Big Ag policy & subsidies yield cheap food & unrealistic/sustainable consumer expectations - Now we are producing more food than ever with fewer farmers

Key Fact:

1. Fossil Fuel Consumption Applied Products: - Petrochemical Fertilizer (required for depleted soils) - Petroleum-based pesticides, herbicides and fungicides Processing – Harvest to Packaging Distance of Transport - Average Produce travels 1,500 miles



Explanation of Process

Farmer to consumer ratio 1950 -1:28 CURRENT - 1:150

2. Lack of Diversity Monoculture – (Show crop production charts 1950 vs. current day) - Monoculture limits diverse mix of necessary nutrients in soil (define) Soil – (show a cross section of healthy vs unhealthy soil) - Weak soil structure requires excessive irrigation (AG. Water Consumption Fact) - All that irrigation creates large amounts of erosion/runoff - Washes Fertilizer & harmful chemicals – creates contamination - leads to desertification


Benefits & Facts (To be VisualY Represented)



Current # of farmers?

3. GMO’s & “Bio Tech”




- Education opportunities – both vegitative & aquatic life - Community resource network

- Does not require soil - 90% Less water than soil-based farming - Petro-Chemical Free

- Can achieve a lot in a small amount of space – 10% of the space necessary for in soil growing - Microclimates extend growing season - ability to grow 365 days a year

Definition: Living things whose DNA has been altered, often with the addition of a gene from a distant species, to produce a desired trait. Opportunities for value but desire for Profit often outweighs desire for public safety Often requires the use of Petro-based fertilizers and other harmful chemicals to initiate growth Does not eliminate reliance on nonrenewable resources


- Lack of transparency of process yields food/farming illiteracy - Dependence on fewer farms


- Dependence on non-renewable resources & petrochemicals - Desertification - Diminishing bio-diversity in soil


- Cheap fuel = cheap food - Market dependent on imported produce - Able to feed a lot of people but at what cost?

Context Paragraph:


- Population is booming, namely in urban areas - Food Insecurity is looming as peak oil is immenent - Lack of food education requires bringing the food to the people - Cities take up 2% of the worlds’ area but are responsible for 75% of general global consumption

Key Fact:


Provides control over variety and purity of crops grown independently from commercially sold products



1950 -2,556,000,050 CURRENT - 7,147,931,000 2050 - 9,600,000,000

Exporsure to process, involved in growth. Supported by local individuals. Educational and demonstrative



Can exist in a variety of environments / forms. Supportive of bio-remediation, but not required. Space efficient, scalable production level

1950 -740,000,000 CURRENT - 3,400,000,000 2050 - 6,400,000,000

1. Available Infrastructure & Space (Environmental) Vacant space:

- Lots, publicly owned land, rooftops & warehouse space are all possible environments for urban ag project

Existing Municipal Infrastructure:

- Water and power are already integrated

Waste (RESOURCE) Stream recycling:

- Urban ag can make use of storm water run off for irrigation, food waste for compost, industrial scrap material

2. Empowerment (social) FOOD LITERACY: -Re-Introducing nature/ag into the urban environment creates a

healthy, informed population. (typical elementary student in the U.S. receives only 3.4 hours of nutrition education in a year, yet they watch more t.v. than that in a typical day source: USDA)

Entrepreneurial Labor Opportunities: - Variety of possible scales from community based job training high-tech large scale commercial operations

Community Engagement & Collaboration

3. Local Availability (ECONOMIC) Proximity to Markets:

-Both commercial and retail – Public Markets, Grocerys & Restauraunts

Food Security:

- Reduction of reliance on distant sources provides a stronger local food market and helps to ensure healthy food options on a community level


-Limitations on land use/access temporary due to desire for higher yield. - Land value vs. appropriate use


- Can be tough to achieve economies of scale

Public Receptiveness

- Successful urban ag requires the support of the local community who are sometimes reluctant to see the potential value


Aesthetic & Material Research


Material combinations play on the relationship between flora and the fabricated environment, embracing natures inherent tendency to persevere while facilitating this aptitude to thrive. A balance between sustenance needs and urban life is achieved with a rustic, industrial vibe, found through form stylization.


material selection

Wood, metal, concrete

Interest is added to both object and environment with the use of materials that age gracefully, are heavy in personality and rich in tactile texture. Combining reused materials such as timber with new, low-impact ones like concrete allows for visual contrast and hierarchy.



FORM EXPLORATION Branden began initial ideation by reflecting some of the stylistic features of landscape architecture into aquaponic component design. My goal here was to elevate the feeling of DIY to a more high-end craft approach, introducing rigid contrasting materials such as concrete, wood and steel too allow the innate characteristics of the materials to be heard while still remaining approachable.


System Layout Exploration










50 ’

DWC Raft

50 ’

50 ’






Media Bed












25 ’







Aquatic Plant Cultivation

50 ’





Water Return




Farm Tour Path





Retail Path


50 ’ SPROU

Water Out



25 ’





25 ’

Fish Tank








25 ’
































Validation Conclusions After presenting our contextual research to our mentors it was clear that we needed to watch our tone and presentation strategy. Regarding the system design and market strategy, we were on the right track, components were looking feasible, crop selection would allow for succession harvesting and up-cycling was potential for sourcing our materials.

next Steps The flow and volume of system needed to be adjusted for proper function and ratio balance between each growing tactic. The integration of a nursery bed into our deep water raft segment would open up area within the greenhouse as well as provide ample, consistent growing conditions to increase ease of planting and reduce transition shock to plants.


Concept Refinement Following initial concepts and validation presentations we were ready to move on to designing the final designs. March was spent reconsidering problems exposed in mid-term presentations and making decisions on both the final design and the appearance of our DAAPWorks exhibition displays. Christian reconsidered the logo mark and developed the infographics while Branden integrated the chosen system layout into our space and developed a 3-D model.


Goals for March Graphic Design – Christian Define color & typography choices Refine and finalize logo mark Organize and design all three infographic panels Determine DAAPWorks display set-up Gather materials necessary to build display

Industrial Design – Branden Complete spatial layout Refine retail furniture Update and finalize system design Determine market strategy Complete final CAD for renderings Strategize scale model


Updated logo Direction We decided to go back and re-consider the logo mark due to some of the weakness’ found in the initial design. The new style continues to use a leaf but its form relates more to a wave than a closed loop. This form was intended to represent the propagation of ideas and our methodology. Christian worked to develop several iterations of the arugula leaf we used as inspiration to find one that maintained the appropriate amount of hierarchy while sitting above the word mark. The type is more prominent while the drop shadow speaks to a vintage hand painted feel, present in both the farm traditional & urban aesthetics. We also added the tag line, “urban market farm� to allude to our purpose and function as a whole.


Exploration & Variations


Material Acquisition We were intent on finding our materials locally and recycling as many parts as we could for our final displays & signage. We contacted a friend of ours who owns a old factory on the west side of Cincinnati. He gave us all the wood we will need for free. The wood has been recycled from old floor joists and will be used to build the slat wall (on the next page) and frame our final posters for DAAPWorks.


Display Concepts Below is a process depiction of Christian’s display for the end of the semester. The intention is to replicate the slat wall where the infographics reside within the space.



CAD DEvelopment 3-D realization was completed using Google Sketch-Up after completing sketches like the one above. Construction specifications were considered along with ergonomics and the ability to navigate the space for both consumers and employees. Display features were intended for value added products as well as produce that will be sold in the on-site market. Adaptations to the building were also considered for efficient growth and minimizing environmental impact.


Concept Realization Refinement led us to the final solutions, shown on the following pages. The final weeks were spent finishing up outstanding portions of the designs, preparing the materials we gathered for our displays and finalizing the brand standards and process books.


Goals for April Graphic Design – Christian Final Infographics Brand Standards Book Process Book Final DAAPWorks display

Industrial Design – Branden Complete spatial layout Refine retail furniture Update and finalize system design Determine market strategy Complete final CAD for renderings Strategize scale model


Final Branding Intended to portray a merger of farm-traditional and the urban environment, the logo mark acts as a bold expression of our vision and aesthetic. Several different combinations can be achieved using the leaf mark and/or typographic elements on their own for various applications such as signage, marketing materials and the packaging and labeling of value added goods. The leaf mark’s flowing form reflects the cyclical nature of aquaponic growth.

Primary Mark

urban market farm

70 70

urban market farm

Logo Variations

two-color no tag line

word mark

urban market farm one color w/ tagline – green

leaf mark – green

71 71

Texture & Material

COLOR Palette

Canvas Textile The primary texture used, canvas gives a tactile appearance while speaking to our far m traditional aesthetic .

CMYK: 2 3 2 0 RGB: 244 244 242

Re-Claimed wood Locally sourced and readily available, re-claimed wood is used mostly for environmental applications.

Concrete & Aggregate Intended as a secondary level, various concrete and aggregate textures can be use in illustrative instances.


CMYK: 26 29 48 0 RGB: 193 173 140

CMYK: 34 26 61 1 RGB: 174 169 120

Photos should all be all multiplied to reveal the texture below the image. 72

CMYK: 24 7 14 0 RGB: 192 214 214

CMYK: 66 50 58 28 RGB: 83 94 88



Headers & Titles:



Body copy should always appear in the charcoal color to maintain legibility. Titles can exist in either the green or charcoal from the color palette to help establish hierarchy.

Bebas neue regular Primary Body Copy:

Baskerville Semi-Bold ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz !@#$%^&*() ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz !@#$%^&*() Secondary Body Copy:

Baskerville Regular

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz !@#$%^&*() ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz !@#$%^&*() 73

Market Niche

As a small scale, commercial farm, we aim to become an integral source of fresh salad greens and culinary herbs for both high end restaurants and the average individual in Cincinnati’s downtown area. Growing aquaponically allows us to harvest weekly during periods of maturity, supplying produce at peaks times of freshness. Our ability to remain flexible and provide for a variety of scales helps our business remain diverse, reduces potential for loss, eliminates spoil rates and develops strong partnerships with resource providers within the community. Our practice is made more sustainable with this network approach.

Patron Analysis Conscious Consumers As individuals and businesses become more aware of the implications of certain growing practices, a greater emphasis is placed on purity, origin and methodology. We are capitalizing on our ability to cater to this value in honesty by remaining transparent, farming local and hand selecting our varieties offered based on immediate demand.

Benefactors Besides growing and selling produce, a major aspect of Propagate is the informative side. We offer in-depth workshops on aquaponic growing and system design consultation. Tours of the space are open to large and small groups and we invite all customers to check out our space to better understand our approach and consider their choices as consumers. 74


Site Functions

The final site design includes three individual functions: An aquaponic farm, an on-site farm and an informative experience. The following pages provide more details about each section.




Aquaponic Farm The back two thirds of the space are comprised of an aquaponic farm system, capable of producing over 850 plants in a successive manner year-round. An open layout allows for customer interaction, while maintaining access for employees to plant and harvest from the system.




Tilapia are chosen

A stone comprised

Fish feed is

for their omnivorous diet, temperature preference and overall heartiness.

entirely from recycled glass is our medium of choice. It’s lightweight and

supplemented with a mix of worms and aquatic plants grown on our

They may not have

porous, providing

farm. We introduce

much market value but are vital to the nutrient system.

home to microbial life and moisture.

compost tea for growth and pest control as well.


System Layout Media Beds


Deep Water Rafts

Fish Tank


System Components

sprouting plugs

sprouting plugs

bio composite panels

grow stone

metal armature

pond liner

natural fiber insulation

reclaimed timber

ferro cement

natural fiber insulation



On-Site Market The addition of an on-site sales point allows the space to stand out in the urban agriculture market. Direct farm to market sales significantly reduce transportation needs and help to connect the consumer to the origin of their food. This will allow us to ensure the highest quality, taste and nutritional value.

Products offered: ORGANIC SEEDS

CULINARY HERBS Sage, Parsley, Basil, Cilantro, Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Dill, Leeks, Tarragon, Scallions, Chives, Garlic, Shallots, Fennel

SALAD GREENS Sage, Parsley, Basil, Cilantro, Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Dill, Leeks, Tarragon, Scallions, Chives, Garlic, Shallots, Fennel

Kale, Arugula, Spinach, Mesclun, Mezuna, Romain, Radiccio, Mache, Rhubarb, Swiss Chard, Mustard Greens, Endive, Water Cress, Bok Choy



Informative Experience

Beyond growing and selling produce in-house, we seek to inform the consumer about the current food system and urban agriculture opportunities, as well as alternative methodologies such as permaculture and the aquaponic techniques used in our farm. An educational graphics system is integrated to guide our visitors through the space and explain the aquaponic process.


Immersive An integrated graphics system guides our visitors through the space, providing in-depth information on plants growing aquaponically.

Engaging Our space has been laid out in a manner that is accessible for both farmer and customer, allowing all to freely interact and observe.

We offer workshops on aquaponic design and construction as well as the maintenance of crops. Curious individuals can find answers here.


Final Infographic Set



Market Strategy On-Site Market The addition of an on-site sales point allows the space to stand out in the urban agriculture market. Direct farm to market sales significantly reduce transportation needs and helps to connect the consumer to the origin of their food. This will allow us to ensure the highest quality, taste and nutritional value.

direct sales Much of our sales are made directly to restaurants, delivering custom ordered, hand selected produce in its freshest state several times a week. This close relationship helps reduce spoil rates and the application of preservatives.


methodology We believe Aquaponics is a strong alternative growing method due to its low impact, high productivity and adaptability to the urban environment. Our methods reduce upkeep and energy use, while utilizing resources found in the local environment to help bring the nutrient cycle closer to home.

community partners Our practice is made more sustainable through the involvement of local networks. We are pairing up with algae growers and red worm breeders to supplement the nutritional needs of our fish, collecting food scraps and compost to brew liquid fertilizers and providing consultation for system design.


SEASON EXTENSION With the use of our greenhouse and adaptive, sustainable technologies, such as LED’s in the winter, supplemental insulation and a geothermal climate control, we are able to increase the seasonal availability of crops to year round, manage our growing conditions and produce consistent yields.



Thank you! questions or comments? email: or


Profile for Branden Francis

Undergraduate Capstone Process Documentation  

University of Cincinnati / Daap 2014

Undergraduate Capstone Process Documentation  

University of Cincinnati / Daap 2014