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The Perennial: Aquaponics Grow in Oakland 

Tuesday, Nov 18 2014
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When it opens in mid-Market in 2015, The Perennial will aim to serve delicious food while being as sustainable and green as possible. How San Francisco, right? But the pair behind the restaurant — husband-and-wife restaurateurs and authors Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz, of Mission Chinese Food — is serious about reducing the environmental footprint. They're raising the bar for restaurant environmentalism by building an aquaponic greenhouse in Oakland in where food scraps from the kitchen are turned into fresh, organic ingredients.

Compared to traditional soil-based farming, an aquaponic greenhouse uses one-tenth of the water and increases crop rotations and yields. If successful, the model could be replicated and adopted by other restaurants around the world. They're currently raising money for the greenhouse on Kickstarter.

On the food front, Myint and Leibovitz have enlisted the help of Chris Kuyuna, who cooked at Coi and most recently trained at NOMA in Copenhagen (the guy knows his veggies, to say the least). The team recently hosted an educational event where it previewed some bites composed from vegetables grown from Viridis Aquaponics in Watsonville (which is also helping build the aquaponics facility in Oakland). Though sturdier and firmer in texture, the greens were indistinguishable in taste from those at a farmers market.

Perhaps most intriguing about aquaponic farming is the prospect that locally grown produce can be available all year. Since vegetables are grown in a controlled environment, we could have fresh, delicious, and pesticide-free tomatoes all year, even during winter when they're out of season. Panzanella in December? We're into that.

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Omar Mamoon

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