For URBtank, it’s all about the cycle.
Kyle McGrath, 23, and Brad Ostendorf, 22, are the brains behind URBtank
, an urban aquaponics system.
The team, who both studied architecture at the University of Kentucky, worked on proposals and plans for the River Cities Project
, which addresses ecological and economic conditions and tries to bring people back to the water.
McGrath and Ostendorf couldn’t stop thinking about aquaponics all summer, and soon they found themselves building a system in Ostendorf’s garage in Cold Spring, Ky.
Aquaponics uses fish to fertilize plants, typically of the edible kind and can function in any kind of climate, indoor or outdoor.
“Fish need nutrients, we feed the fish, they excrete waste, that fish waste can be turned into nitrates, which fertilize the plants themselves, so the plants then clean the water for the fish, and it gets returned back to the fish," says McGrath. "And it’s a close-loop cycle, so the water flows throughout the whole system."
The pair is in the process of moving their system to a warehouse at 111 W. McMicken Ave. There, they have plans for massive expansion.
“There thousands upon thousands of unused acres inside of old buildings, so why not tap into that?” Ostendorf says.
Space isn’t the only advantage. “There’s no interruption; it just keeps going. You take out the seasons, and you’re providing for the whole year."
With no plans to stop, URBtank is currently growing microgreens, mizuna and watercress. Immediate plans include growing lettuce and other leafy greens.
Both McGrath and Ostendorf are interested in fine dining, and they want to develop a community aspect to their business by allowing chefs to choose what they grow and hand-pick items for menus.
“They have complete control over what they grow," says McGrath. "If they want Asian cress or mizuna or wasabi pea chutes, we can do that for them.
For updates, follow URBtank on Twitter
By Gina Gaetano