Something Fishy This Way Comes
Urban aquaponics is poised to be the next big thing in hip, big-city farming…but does anyone actually know what they’re doing?
Photos by Emon Hassan
Chistopher Toole starts up the inclined parking lot of his Riverdale, Bronx, apartment complex towards his “fish mobile,” a beat-up 2004 grey Dodge Sprinter van decorated with bright images of fish and ocean landscaping. The tall, bespectacled man reaches the van, unlocks it and energetically slides the door open to reveal dense clutter: four fifty-gallon plastic barrel tanks, crammed alongside stacks of empty boxes, air pumps, pails, plastic-wrapped packs of expanded shale, a “Say No To Frankenfish” postcard, and, yes, a six-person collapsible boat.
“I hope to have this five-cylinder turbo diesel van running on fish oil soon,” Toole says in hyper-caffeinated mode as an empty brown box tumbles down the heap and onto the ground.
It’s the spring of 2012, and forty-eight-year-old Toole is dressed for his stepson’s seventh birthday party: a pair of black pinstripe dress slacks mismatched with a neon yellow and purple polo shirt. His long, bushy salt-and-pepper beard is …