15 Mar 2011
Milwaukee wins IBM award and support to take urban aquaculture across the world

IBM has announced that Milwaukee is among 24 cities worldwide to receive a Smarter Cities Challenge grant, which will give the city access to top IBM experts and technology to potentially expand local, cutting-edge urban agriculture efforts around the globe.

The winning project, Sweet Water Organics urban aquaculture is one of a suite of water-related projects that Milwaukee is working on as an Innovating City in the UN Global Compact Cities Programme; reflecting the far reaching engagement of this leader city.

The ibm Smarter Cities Challenge grants, valued at about $400,000 apiece, are aimed at helping cities improve one aspect of city life. Issues addressed by winning cities include health care, education, safety, social services, transportation, communications, sustainability, budget management, energy and utilities.

More than 200 cities in 40 countries competed for the 24 grants. The ibm grant in Milwaukee specifically will look at how water management and aquaculture intersect, and whether there’s a sustainable economic model in Sweet Water Organics, an urban fish and vegetable farm that mimics the Earth’s natural ecosystem in an industrial building in the Bay View neighborhood. Harnischfeger Industries once used the building to make mining cranes.

Cofounded by roofing contractor James Godsil and business partner Josh Fraundorf, Sweet Water Organics is the first commercial test of Will Allen’s innovative aquaculture model for perch – an eco-friendly system that produces fish and vegetables in a closed system that conserves water. Growing Power, the nonprofit urban farm at 5500 W. Silver Spring Drive, unveiled the system three years ago.

James has big aspirations and unlimited enthusiasm for the enterprise and says that Sweet Water Organics may well be the world’s first enterprise involving the transformation of a century old factory building into an aquaponic fish produce farm as well as an art, science, and earth friendly innovation center.

“Sweet Water is a hybrid enterprise growing farmers and, through the power of the internet, aspiring to diffuse aquaponics innovations, large and small, across the planet, especially to arid and rain forest nations. He believes “every city deserves a Sweet Water!”

Sweet Water is raising tens of thousands of yellow perch and plants in simulated river beds, and harvesting information for hands-on education in science, technology, engineering, and math. Sweet Soil, is also being developed through large scale composting.

The Milwaukee team welcome the ibm alliance. “It’s my understanding that ibm wants to help Milwaukee advance itself as one of the world’s smartest cities by virtue of our commitment to learning to feed ourselves,” Godsil said. “We’ve formed a grand alliance around creating a 21st-century, Earth-friendly industry that reminds me of the grand alliance formed when we shifted from wheat and alfalfa and corn to dairy – a much higher added-value form of agriculture with technology surrounding it.”

From left: Claus Dunkelberg from the Milwaukee Water Council with some of the Sweet Water Organics team: Chaya Nayak, James Godsil and Jess Hull.


For more information see www.sweetwater-organic and www.smartercitieschallenge.org

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