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ARTICLE | How a garden pool can create a sustainable food production for a family

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Five years ago, a busted old swimming pool sat out of commission on the property of a foreclosed home in Mesa, Arizona, and from that damaged amenity, the Garden Pool movement was cultivated.

In 2009, Dennis and Danielle McClung bought that foreclosed home and empty swimming pool in need of expensive repairs. Instead of fixing up the swimming pool, McClung transformed the swimming pool into a self-sufficient, mini ecosystem. McClung built a plastic cap over the old swimming pool and began cultivating food where people once swam.

The Garden Pool featured a closed-loop ecosystem where tilapia, algae, and duckweed flourished alongside broccoli and sweet potatoes. McClung’s goal was to feed a family of five and within a calendar year, their Garden Pool saved the family 75 percent on their grocery bills.

Before long, the idea grew into a movement and Garden Pool, the 501(c)3 non-profit organization, was formed. Today, according to the Garden Pool website, Garden Pools are being built around the globe as a sustainable solution to modern “food production challenges.” Grist featured the Garden Pool in an article late last summer and praised the growth of the Garden Pool.

Garden Pool from Dark Rye on Vimeo.

“What began as a family experiment and blog is now a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a small staff. Garden Pool has been voted the Best Backyard Farm in Phoenix, gotten press from National Geographic TV and Wired and Make, and formed a Phoenix-area Meetup group that has nearly a thousand members. It’s attracted hundreds of local volunteers, students, and gardeners who’ve helped build a dozen more Garden Pool systems in and around Phoenix.”

The Garden Pool has caught the eye of more than just homesteaders and survivalists, though. According to Grist, “scientists and engineers from Cornell University, Arizona State University, and even the space industry have all visited Garden Pool.” What makes Garden Pool so interesting to so many scientists from various fields is that the Garden Pool design incorporates solar power, water conservation, backyard chickens, aquaculture, aquaponics, hydroponic gardening, organic pest control, biofiltration, thermal mass heating, and permaculture into a small enclosed, manageable area.

Garden Pool

Garden Pool, as a nonprofit organization, also offers online classes and meetup groups. Volunteers with the Garden Pool non-profit organization even worked with Naturopaths Without Borders to build a Garden Pool in Haiti.

Garden Pool is also working on their new Community Outreach for Research and Nutrition Garden (C.O.R.N. Garden) which will serve to produce nutritious food for the hungry and provide research data for future projects. The C.O.R.N. Garden will also provide a way for community members to volunteer and be a stronger part of the Garden Pool movement.

What do you think of the Garden Pool idea?

[Photo via Garden Pool]

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