There Must Be Something In the Walls

In this month’s issue of Convene, our Giving Back section focuses on walls and signage comprised of living foliage used at events. Sustainable décor offers a ton of environmental and health benefits, some being that attendees feel more energized because of the abundance of fresh oxygen, and there’s also no non-biodegradable trash piling up in the landfills because volunteers and attendees can take pieces of the adornments with them — thus taking a piece of your event with them. And last but not least, they’re really pretty.

All of this, from their eye-catching elements to their environmental effects, creates a strong and unusual bond between observer (attendee) and sign. The living materials create a connection that wasn’t there before, and the signage becomes so much more than a decoration.

There must be something in the water, because a few weeks after I’d written the article, I walked into my local coffee shop and came across something that I think takes this idea even one step further:

Recirculating aquaculture garden by OKO Farms at Breukelen Coffee House

It is a “recirculating aquaculture garden,” a system in which there are fish at the base of the wall generating fertilizer that the plants thrive in, and the plants in turn clean the water for the fish. The wall was done by OKO Farms designs, an organization that builds and grows food with recirculating aquaculture systems (aka “aquoponics”). Their first commercial farm will open in Brooklyn this year, growing fish, vegetables, and herbs using environmentally sustainable practices. They are attempting to provide higher quality produce for New Yorkers while eliminating food miles.

It’s nice to see these living walls and aquaponic gardens making their way into our every day lives, and even nicer to know that a growing number of organizations, and event planners, are becoming more and more eco-conscious. We’re definitely at a point as a society, and as an industry, where we need to think about giving back, and these living, growing walls are a vibrant and unique way to do that.

For more information, visit okofarms.com

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