Project seeks to ease food desert in Kansas City
By Matt Jones
Kansas City’s Nile Valley Aquaponics (NVA), the brainchild of urban and aquaponic farmer Dre Taylor, is a community greenhouse project that currently grows around 100,000 lbs of food per year, including tilapia.
The fish are fed naturally through a patented system that converts black soldier fly larvae to fish feed.
NVA is fundraising to create new facilities on the property to double food production and to create a model that can be imported to other areas.
“We provide access to healthy food, and foster community and economic development in an area known as a food desert,” says Taylor. “We’re teaching people to grow their own food, to eat something that’s local and to provide jobs in the community. With the new facility, we’re trying to build a franchiseable model that can be duplicated in other cities.”
Tony McGrail, project architect with design and engineering firm HOK, says he reached out to Taylor after reading about NVA and being impressed by Taylor’s story and his work.
“I thought, ‘wow, this guy is really putting the world on his shoulders in a rough, disadvantaged part of town, and is seemingly succeeding,” says McGrail.
HOK provided NVA with conceptual schematics and mock-ups for new facilities to be used in fundraising efforts. The design includes two greenhouses, one with fruit trees and a fishing pond, and the other for the waste-processing component. Rainwater will be collected in cisterns for various uses and electricity will be generated through a solar array and a wind turbine. A shipping container currently located on the site will be repurposed into a pop-up market to sell NVA’s produce.
Once fundraising is complete and the project is ready to move forward, HOK will develop full construction and engineering documents for the project and will serve in an advisory capacity during construction.
Taylor hopes that fundraising will be completed soon and the new facilities will be in operation by spring of 2019.