aquaponic garden

Aquaponic Garden @Central

patrick & susan bpl staff BPL Grows—is growing! First came the Seed Library, and now we've sprouted an indoor edible garden. And it’s not just any ho-hum garden-variety vegetable garden, but one that grows food with the help of live fish (aquiculture) and Arduino microcontroller technology, and uses water instead of soil (hydroponics).

The aquaponic garden at Central is the library’s first venture into indoor gardening—with a plan to grow into branch libraries within the next year.

Burlington, once known as the "Garden of Canada," has a rich horticultural heritage, and to this day, a reputation for being a community of avid gardeners. Seeing how quickly Burlington residents supported BPL Grows Seed Library, along with an increased interest in community gardening and environmental sustainability in our city, Central branch staffers Susan Thompson and Patrick Cychner (pictured at right) saw an opportunity for the library to explore the idea of public produce—but with an exciting twist.

Unlike most other public produce systems, Susan and Patrick envisioned an indoor food growing system that would be both experimental and educational. An Arduino-controlled aquaponics system was the perfect solution. It offers a simple alternative gardening method that also showcases how coding and technology skills can play an important role in creating an innovative and sustainable food production system.

The aquaponic garden project moves BPL into new territory in library service: growing and sharing food in a simple, socially responsible, and environmentally friendly way.

Thank you, Susan and Patrick, for leading the way and making BPL the first Canadian public library to support growing food year-round with the use of aquaponics.

Get informed & involved!

Stay tuned for programs on traditional and aquaponics gardening methods, and how to create and build your own indoor food systems at home. Keep up-to-date on new programs - sign up to receive the library's monthly online newsletter. And watch the website for current volunteer opportunities to help maintain Central's aquaponic garden

Resources: Books about aquaponics @BPL



1. “Public Produce” is the term coined by landscape architect Darrin Norhdahl, to describe food grown in public spaces for consumption by the public with few restrictions to access. Outdoor public produce systems are successfully operating in Kamloops, BC, Mississauga, and at the Eastern Counties Regional Library system in Nova Scotia.

2. Arduinos have been successfully used to control aquaponic systems. An Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy to use hardware and software that reads inputs (like time) and turns them into outputs (like turning on a pump at certain timed intervals). Arduinos can also be used as a sensor to alert us to problems with the aquaponics garden as they arise.