If you caught my post back in May about “Cannonball,” a haunting short film on how skateboarders are giving second life to America’s quintessential, non-sustainable household status symbol, the swimming pool, you might have been left wondering how to repurpose an abandoned pool without turning it into a renegade skatepark.
Check out Gardenpool.org, a website the chronicles a Mesa, Ariz., family of four’s transformation of "an old backyard swimming pool into a self-sufficient garden in a desert city.” In October 2009, the family in question purchased a foreclosed home in Mesa that came complete with a large, run-down backyard pool. Weary of repairing the pool only to be responsible for the massive amounts of water, energy, and cleaning chemicals needed to maintain it, the family created a one-of-a-kind Garden Pool — think of it as a DIY in-ground urban greenhouse — using materials like chicken wire, lava rock, irrigation tubing, buckets, and a whole lot of imagination in only two days. The total cost of materials? About $1,500.
The family’s goal was to become self-sufficient by 2012. Self-sufficiency was reached prematurely thanks to a unique combination of solar power, water conservation, hydroponic gardening, organic horticulture, and biofiltration. Among the fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs grown in and around the pool are grapes, berries, peppers, rosemary, duckweed, cilantro, eggplant, and two varieties of tomatoes. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Garden Pool is the aquaculture set-up: using plastic kiddie pools, the family installed a tilapia pond within the pool that yields unlimited fish. And where there’s fish there’s also fowl: the Garden Pool also houses a chicken coop.
Read more about the nitty-gritty of the Garden Pool here and if you live in the Mesa area you can stop on by the GP for a private tour, volunteer, and even purchase some live tilapia. Or just admire this remarkable urban gardening project from afar by checking out the below video.