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SINEWS

Stadsjord Urban Farming: an inspirational adventure in urban aquaponics

Come along with the NFGL Local Network in Gothenburg on their recent visit to a very cool urban farming initiative.

Stadsjord Urban Farming: an inspirational adventure in urban aquaponics
SI NFGL Gotheburg's study visit to Stadsjord Urban Farming's facility. Photo by: Niklas Wennberg

A number of sustainability enthusiasts from the NFGL Local Network in Gothenburg visited Stadsjord Urban Farming and their urban aquaponics premises earlier this month.

Niklas Wennberg, the head of the initiative, gave us a tour of the facility and explained to us the process of indoor aquaponic plant cultivation and fish farming in a symbiotic system of interconnected tanks.

“As an engineer, I'm quite impressed with the design of the system”, said Tuan Linh Nguyen, who is pursuing an MSc in Biomedical engineering at Chalmers University of Technology.

“This is the first time I've seen a complete system using waste and bacteria to produce greens and fish in a house without using any medicine.”

Niklas farms omnivore fish, like Tilapia and Clarias, which can be fed with green and fish market waste harvested from cities.

Then, the water rich in ammonia excreted by the fish goes through tanks containing bacteria, that convert ammonia to nitrate. This nitrate-rich water is used to grow plants that provide quality produce without any dependence on soil.

Photo: Tamara Goudian

As we were walking past fish tanks and containers with plants, the elegance of the solution became more clear to us.

“I wasn't aware that hydroponics and aquaculture can be combined to form a sustainable process,” mentions Abubakar Khatry, who is studying for an MSc in Design and Construction Project Management at Chalmers.

Erika Steyn, who is working toward an MSc in Materials Engineering at, Chalmers adds, “I believe that in modern culture we are focused on consumerism. We know how to use products and we are starting to develop a 'recycling' culture.

“However, full sustainability would require us to understand how to come full-circle and create products again from waste without any 'wasted' energy. I think urban farming is a way to implement this.”

Photo by: Tamara Goudian

While exploring the aquaponic facilities, we found it hard to believe that the building would to be torn down in just a few years. Nevertheless, it is in fact a part of the densification process promoted by Stadsjord Urban Farming, which envisions the integration of organising aquaponics using existing infrastructures like unused facilities.

However, it is not only rundown buildings that may host aquaponics. We were all impressed by what Erika Steyn called the “versatility of the solution that Stadsjord offers”.

It can be used in any environment: existing buildings, new housing, and soon rural areas. Furthermore, Niklas mentioned that they had even been contacted by US space agency NASA to discuss fish farming in zero gravity.

Photo by: Tamara Goudian

According to Niklas, if new residential facilities include 50 square-metres of aquaponic units and 100 square-metres of greenhouse areas with vertical farming, it would produce enough fish and greens for 100 residents.

“It is an inspiring project as well as it is beneficial. There will be less need for fishing and contaminating seas and oceans leading to a more sustainable environment. This would also help the economy as imports will drop dramatically,” noted Murtada Ahmed, who studies in the Applied Data Science Master's Programme at University of Gothenburg.

Niklas also recognizes the necessity of developing “sophisticated village-style systems, mobile and modular” to integrate the aquaponic solution to settings where high technology and energy are not easily available.

Abubakar from Chalmers added that a great advantage of the system is the ability to provide people with greens and protein where there is no arable land to farm or oceans to fish from.

“It is also quite an eye opener, that in essence, this is such a simple answer for a lot of global issues regarding waste management on the one hand and hunger and poverty on the other. This could potentially be implemented to assist several struggling communities globally,” added Erika.

We were captivated by Niklas' passion, energy, and determination.

“Definitely, hearing from the experience Niklas shared with us, even one person can make a difference, slowly but surely”, said Abubakar.

Tamara Goudian, who is pursuing an MSc in Biomedical engineering at Chalmers added: “I believe it is not easy to go against flows but when it is for a good cause, it is worth the effort”.

In conclusion, the participants in the visit shared the view that visiting Stadsjord Urban Farming and other initiatives like this are vital for students, as we can both acquire knowledge about sustainability and its numerous implementations in today’s life, and also find our own ways to contribute to sustainable future, and learn to believe that every person can make a difference.

By Alena Seredko of the NFGL Local Network in Gothenburg. She studies Information Technology and Learning at the University of Gothenburg.

SINEWS

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.