World's first '˜FabFarm' opens in Derry

The world's first ever '˜FabFarm' has been unveiled in Derry.

Thursday, 15th September 2016, 2:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:42 pm
Pictured at the launch of the new FabFarm at The Playtrail in Derry are, from left, Mabh Fisher, Ronan Cleere, Paul McCay, from the Nerve Centre's Fab Lab, Caroline Harkin, The Playtrail, Kelly McCloskey, ACT participant, Annemarie Donnelly, The Playtrail, and John Peto, from the Nerve Centre. Picture Martin McKeown. 15.09.16

Located at The Playtrail in Pennyburn, the project is an exciting partnership between students from The Playtrail and Ardnashee School and College and the Nerve Centre’s FabLab in Derry.

Funded by Comic Relief, almost 100 young people will be involved in the region’s first social enterprise aquaponic digital farm, from initial concept, design to build and maintenance.

The FabFarm combines innovative aquaponic farming methods of using water and fish for vegetable growing with new digital fabrication techniques and equipment.

Using state of the art digital fabrication equipment from the Nerve Centre’s FabLab, students will receive hands-on training and experience in a range of digital design and making techniques, allowing them to design, build and operate an aquaponic farm.

John Peto, Director of Education at Nerve Centre, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for young students at the Playtrail and Ardnashee College to advance their skills in digital technology and design, programming and electronics, all of which will equip them for the modern workplace.

“We don’t know of anyone else in the world that is doing this yet – not only operating an Aquaponic Farm but designing and building it themselves, and we are very proud that this is happening here in Derry before anywhere else.”

Mark Roberts, Director at the Playtrail, has welcomed the new project, hailing it as “very exciting, unique and innovative.”

He added: “The FabFarm will allow us to increase the amount and variety of produce grown through the new aquaponic system, open up new and different markets, and develop social enterprise activities and increase skills and qualifications for young people.”

As the project begins, local restaurant, The Sooty Olive, has already signed up to be the FabFarm’s first customer.

Sean Harrigan, from the restaurant, said he was delighted to be involved in the new project.

“The FabFarm project and new aquaponic system will allow us to develop further our relationship with the Playtrail, with the opportunity of increasing more quality local produce for use in the restaurant,” he said.

The FabFarm is just the latest innovation for the multi award-winning Playtrail project and adds a new dimension to the their work with young people with special needs.