Man uses fish poo, sensors to grow garden

In Oakland, California, a man grows veggies with fish excrement instead of soil. Eric Maudu’s garden is wired with sensors that let him know just how thirsty his plants are, even when he’s not home.

I spoke to Maudu of Kijani Grows, during The Summer of Smart conference in San Francisco about his aquaponic garden. The garden has sensors hooked up, so Maudu can tell when the water is running low. The plants have sensors that tweet updates so he can know in real-time how his garden is doing.

So what do you need for an aquaponic system? All you need is fish, filters, the ability to compost the waste, and an appetite for fresh vegetables.

The parking lots in Oakland are not that different to where he grew up in Kenya, a country home to deserts and arid land. “When people see asphalt, I see a desert,” Maudu said, who has been known to give away leftovers to his neighbors.

During the Summer of Smart hackathon, which involved 48 hours of rapid prototyping, Maundu’s team put together a nifty dashboard.

In October, five of the teams from the Summer of Smart conference will present their hacks to nine mayoral candidates and perhaps the best ideas will be implemented in the city of San Francisco. If anything, characters like Maudu may inspire other urbanites to grow their own veggies. His tale has already inspired one of my friends.

By Boonsri Dickinson of CNET’s Smart Planet – September 25, 2011