Nigerian-born Yemi Amu shares a look at Oko Farms, a Bushwick, Brooklyn aquaponics system housing both fish and plants with the same water source since 2013. Given that about 70 percent of freshwater is used for agriculture globally, Oko Farms is recycling at its best. Jen Maylack interviews the urban farmer for Vogue US.
When Amu first encountered the concept of aquaponics, she realized this technique, which uses fish waste to fertilize plants grown in water, and then in turn allows the plants to filter toxins from the water so it can safely be returned to fish, had massive potential. It’s a symbiotic system, relying on the relationship between fish, plants and microbes. “Nature is really efficient, and I fell in love with that efficiency,“ Amu says. “That source of locally raised sustainable protein, nobody is doing it.”
Seeking knowledge about her own eating disorder, the urban farmer began studying Ayurveda and its emphasis on holistic nutrition, supported by the idea that food is medicine. She then attended Teachers College, Columbia University for a Master’s Degree in Health and Nutrition Education. Soon came rooftop gardening and a passion that grabbed her being.