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Chicago nb. 6: from Aquaponics 321 to Farm Box

Napisano: 13. 05. 2016 04:42

By: dr. Maja Turnsek Hancic

One of the most important points that we hear about the cultural differences between Slovenia and the U.S. is that here people are not afraid to fail. If you fail, it is just another step in the learning curve in order to do better the next time.

It made me think hard about my own parenting techniques. I am not one of those mothers that would put their kids in cotton wool. But I don’t just tell Tine: “Be careful, you will fall”. I tell him: “You can climb, but if you fall you will get you ass kicked”. If this is the way we do it, no wonder our kids are afraid of failure!

But to get back to the topic:  I visited FarmBox who are situated at the Plant.

I talked to Arash Amini (LinkedIn), CEO of FarmBoxSystems.com. We will follow his quest towards more modern, better urban farming.

Arash Amini and Maja Turnsek Hancic aquaponics hydroponics

His road led him looking for success  first in commercial aquaponics, then in DIY aquaponics, and now in vertical hydroponics. Arash was the co-founder of 312 Aquaponics, then of FarmTower Co., and now of FarmBox LLC.

Aquaponics 312 was a startup located in the Plant Chicago with a vision to grow microgreens and babyleaf lettuces, distributed to local restaurants.

A video made for local TV (if you listen carefully you will hear aquaponics named as aquaphonics):

Customers, claims Arash, do not care how exactly the food was produced: whether it was aquaponics or organic hydroponics – as long as it is organic.  That is why he turned away from aquaponics after they dissolved the Aquaponics 312.  

He describes himself as a believer in aquaponics and its sustainability and closed-loop nature. He even wrote a book on aquaponics with the title DIY Aquaponics: The Definitive How To Guide.  But he thinks its future is more in small-scale and home-scale systems.

The 312 Aquaponics was founded when the three partners were just out of university and had high hopes and aspirations, but not yet a lot of experience. They mostly built their system themselves. But then they hit a hard wall of nutrient spikes and too little yield to be commercially viable in the competitive urban farming Chicago landscape.

Now he is focused penetrating the vertical urban farming market with the product FarmBox together with more experienced business partners and investors.   

 

 

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas Edison

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