Farm Fountain by Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs is a system for growing edible and ornamental fish and plants in a constructed, indoor ecosystem. Based on the concept of aquaponics, this hanging garden fountain uses a simple pond pump, along with gravity to flow the nutrients from fish waste through the plant roots. The plants and bacteria in the system serve to cleanse and purify the water for the fish.

Farm Fountain 4 by Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs at the Te Papa Museum, Wellington New Zealand. Curated by Randi Rosenberg. Photo Amy Youngs
Farm Fountain 4 by Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs at the Te Papa Museum, Wellington New Zealand. Curated by Randi Rosenberg. Photo Amy Youngs

This project is an experiment in local, sustainable agriculture and recycling. It utilizes 2-liter plastic soda bottles as planters and continuously recycles the water in the system to create a symbiotic relationship between edible plants, fish and humans.

The work creates an indoor healthy environment that also provides oxygen and light to the humans working and moving through the space. The sound of water trickling through the plant containers creates a peaceful, relaxing waterfall. The Koi and Tilapia fish that are part of this project also provide a focus for relaxed viewing.

Farm Fountain 4 by Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs at the Te Papa Museum, Wellington New Zealand. Curated by Randi Rosenberg. Photo Amy Youngs
Farm Fountain 4 by Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs at the Te Papa Museum, Wellington New Zealand. Curated by Randi Rosenberg. Photo Amy Youngs

The plants we are currently growing include lettuces, cilantro, mint, basil, tomatoes, chives, parsley, mizuna, watercress and tatsoi. The Tilapia fish in this work are also edible and are a variety that has been farmed for thousands of years in the Nile delta. Growing our own fish has also meant that we have had to confront the killing, cleaning of them ourselves.

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Farm Fountain 4 by Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs at the Te Papa Museum, Wellington New Zealand. Curated by Randi Rosenberg. Photo Amy Youngs

While Farm Fountain is functional sculpture it is also a philosophy that the artists wish to propagate. We have created  illustrated instructions online to share our designs within an open source philosophy.

Farm Fountain 3 by Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs first salad from Farm Fountain 3
Farm Fountain 3 by Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs first salad from Farm Fountain 3

Please visit our illustrated “How -To” pages http://farmfountain.com to see how we made our home version, which has been running continuously since 2007.  At present we have created five versions of the Farm Fountain.

Farm Fountain 3 by Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs first salad from Farm Fountain 3
Tilapica in Farm Fountain 3 by Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs first salad from Farm Fountain 3

We have moved our home version of Farm Fountain 3 into our “kitchen pantry”, which we are now calling our “Green Pantry”.

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Our last tilapia Farm Fountain 3 by Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs first salad from Farm Fountain 3

 We renovated this room to include a South-facing, sliding-glass window for optimal plant growth and have experimented more.

Farm Fountain 4 by Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs at the Te Papa Museum, Wellington New Zealand. Curated by Randi Rosenberg. Photo Amy Youngs
Farm Fountain 4 by Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs at the Te Papa Museum, Wellington New Zealand. Curated by Randi Rosenberg. Photo Amy Youngs

 Our fifth Farm Fountain is a solar powered version, commissioned by Naturarte hotel and Cutivamos Cultura in Sao Luis Portugal in 2009. This eco-hotel is completely solar powered and the plants growing in Farm Fountain 5 are used to feed hotel guests.

EXHIBITIONS

LA MAISON d’AILLEURS, MUSEUM OF SCIENCE FICTION, UTOPIA & EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEYS  Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland Sept-Mar 2010-11
TRANSLIFE: MEDIA ART CHINA 2011 – INTERNATIONAL TRIENNIAL OF NEW MEDIA ART (group) The National Art Museum of China Beijing, China


HARDWARE/TECHNIQUE 
Design and 3D modeling:Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs
Construction:Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs
Hardware:Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs
Software: Ken Rinaldo
The brains and microcontroller within the work functioned as a timer to activate the water to come on in cycles and is easily reprogrammable.
Metal Fabrication: AllFab Inc. Columbus Ohio Russel Roth Jr/Sr

SHOW DIMENSIONS

8 x 8 feet

KEYWORDS

food robot, aquaponics, hydroponics, tilapia, robotic art, fish, home vegetable growth

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Books

The Politics of The ImpureV2 Publishing, NAI Publishers, Farm Fountain, Ken Rinaldo and Amy Youngs
Art into Action, Text by Noa Jones. 
Curated by Randy Rosenberg, 2007
 
ISBN-13: 978-1-932771-77-0
DO ROBOTS DREAM OF SPRING? – The Art of Ken Rinaldo at the Maison d’AilleursRetrospective with forward by Bruce Sterling and Patrick Gyger. Yverdon-les-Bains: September 19, 2010 to March 20, 2011

Reviews

Wired Magazine, Ken Rinaldo: Drone Eat Drone, American Scream BY BRUCE STERLING   02.06.14
Zibeline No 71 du 12/02/2014 pg 62 coverage of the Drone Eats Drone: Ameican Scream work in AntiAtlas of Borders Exhibition
Umbigo Magazine, The Spring Dreams of Ken Rinaldo by Mariana Machado, 12/11/13
ANTENNAE, The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, Ken Rinaldo and Culum Brown – The Social Intelligence of Fish, by Ken Rinaldo