Floating Platforms for FoodServers



We here at Aqua Ark are developers of structures that float on the water, and we have identified floating agriculture as an important project area. We have identified a 5+ acre site off Hunts Point in the Bronx, New York. Serendipitously, we came across the OpenAg community and are very intrigued by the technology presented. We are seeking to gain more information and a build guide for the Food Server.

What is the best way to do this?


GB Bryant

Growing Grapevines

You may find this helpful. Let me know if you want to collaborate.

You may want to reach out to @TechBrainstorm who is also in NYC.


Hey @gbbryant, its great to meet you! I am here in NYC and working on a product called growcomputer.io that may be interesting to you! Reach out at dan@growcomputer.io and we can see if we can get you into the beta!



I just checked out the Aqua Ark website. I’ve never seen anybody mention a floating foundation before as a solution to flooding. Interesting idea.

The best technical information I’ve found so far on food server stuff comes from Tim Savas’s personal website (see sidebar link on Tim’s Media Lab page) and the design files on github (see openag-electrical, openag-mechanical, and openag_hw_scripts). Beyond what’s on Tim’s site, and the pictures @Webb.Peter took of the old food server being disassembled, I’m not aware of any existing documentation about food server stuff.

The new hardware designs on OpenAg’s github are based on custom PCBs that they appear to hand-solder with SMT gear and a microscope (based on Caleb’s Instagram). I’d characterize what they’re doing as early stage research prototypes, but it looks like their intent with this latest iteration is to move more towards hardware that could be mass produced.

On the software side, I’ve talked to Rob a couple times by email. They’re hoping to release some beta software and documentation some time this summer. But, based on the size of their team and the amount of work to be done, I’m not sure what will happen. It seems like they don’t have enough people to both actively pursue their research projects and also engage in outside communication about what they’re doing (see Update from OpenAg - Please Read).

You could try reaching out to @Caleb, but he seems to be extremely busy with travel and speaking engagements. You might also try @openag or @hildreth. Perhaps you could arrange to visit the OpenAg lab at MIT.

Also, are you aware of the N55 collective? Aqua Ark reminds me of their work. See N55’s wikipedia page and website (check out the “manuals” page for stuff about hydroponics and farming).



Thanks for the response. This is helpful as we are ascending the learning curve and are seeking a partner to create the facility.


GB Bryant



Thanks for the note. We are learning quickly and would like to know more how the growcomputer and food computer intersect with the Food Server. The floating facility we are creating supports 140 40’ containers. We have looked at a number of technologies including Cubic Farms and are intrigued by the potential of the variety and changeability of crops that can be raised with the Food Computer.


GB Bryant



Thanks so much for your detailed response. We are assembling a lot from your provided links,and are reaching out to the parties your recommended.

We were not aware of the N55 collective but are keeping an eye on Europe - as they are leading with water borne construction - through our foundation designer, CLEMENT GERMANY GMBH. A quick look at the N55 site is interesting.


GB Bryant


@gbbryant Have you looked at projects where people have put greenhouses on barges? See google image search for greenhouse on a barge.

I ask because one of the big disadvantages of growing in containers is that you give up on a bunch of free sunlight which will cost you a lot in equipment and power to replace. Depending on the latitude and weather, maybe that would be a good tradeoff though. Here’s an article about it by Chris Michael (Bright Agrotech co-founder): https://medium.com/bright-agrotech/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-of-container-farms-d32f4f13f31b

On the other hand, Square Roots seems to be happy growing in containers. It looks like they’ve got a farm tour in Brooklyn coming up on May 22.


@wsnook, Interesting point regarding the free sunlight and we are examining containers incorporating glass enclosures. We are intrigued by the application of the OpenAG - Open Phenome Project, which seems to imply a controlled environment including lighting. Aqua Ark is fundamentally a developer and is looking for the right partner to realize this opportunity.

Thanks for the heads-up on the Square Roots tour, we will be attending.


GB Bryant


Yes, as I understand it, Caleb’s vision definitely includes full climate control. When I read and watch things from people who grow commercially, there’s a lot of talk about greenhouses–sometimes with supplementary lighting. I’m not sure how many years away OpenAg’s research is from being ready to do technology transfers or consulting work on commercial projects.

If you aren’t familiar with Dickson Despommier and Howard Resh, it might be worth looking them up. Based on their books and videos, it seems like they’ve done consulting on commercial projects.

Here’s another link you might like. This is a recent documentary on vertical farming which includes interviews with Dickson Despommier: Vertical Farming Documentary