The food will go on

Nobody could stop the Titanic from going down but the Boatanic may offer an eco-friendly solution for inner-city food production issues.

Noticing all the discarded tourists boats on the waterways of Amsterdam, designer Damian O’Sullivan wondered about replacing tourists with tomatoes and thyme.  He realised that the boats are ideally suited to be floating greenhouses because of their large glass windows and roofs.

The Boatanic is a simple green concept that harnesses existing know-how for a design solution for inner-city food production while dramatically reducing the carbon footprint of the food. The name of this concept is derived from the words “boat’ and “botanic” but is also a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Titanic and the inevitable (food) crisis we are facing.

State-of-the-art growing technologies and greenhouse equipment would be used on the Boatanic. Automatic irrigation, phase-changing materials for retaining heat at night, rainwater catchments and filtering systems are some of the technologies that would be incorporated in the Boatanic. Solar and wind power could be used to power the boat and the possibility of running the boat on recycled frying fat from restaurants is also being investigated.

Since the yield of the Boatanic will be relatively small, the initial focus of the project would be to supply to a niche market, sold directly from the quay or delivered by bicycle. The business model for the Boatanic has an educational component that wants to attract school children to the project to teach them about sustainable food production

The Boatanic could be the start of the return to the commercial use of the inner-city waterways that have been underutilized in the last century due to the exploitation of road transport.

Customers will be able to track the Botanic’s produce and location via a website and iPhone app. O’Sullivan wants to have the project running in Amsterdam by 2011 and then hopes to expand it to other cities in Europe and North America. The Boatanic features as part of a group exhibition at Fort Asperen until September 2010.

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