Wonderful Water: A Neighborhood Fest

Nov 2, 2014

1360566Once upon a time…

It all began with butterflies. The Butterfly Fair, in fact. “Then we went underground for the Wiggly Worm Fair.”

Now, The Farmer’s Yard, Northwest Pasadena Community Gardeners, and the Trailer Trash Project presents “Wonderful Water” on November 15th.

Appropriately for a day of water appreciation, everyone is welcome to come and “enjoy a glass of water.” A glass of water may not buzz the brain like freshly squeezed orange juice or a nice, strong weekend bloody mary, but it does reiterate the theme of the event. Then, rather unusually (because we’ve never heard of this before), guests are invited “to add a water memory to the Raindrop Tree.”




To continue with the water theme, Leigh Adams of the L.A. Arboretum will be talking about water reclamation for home gardens, Nicholas Hummingbird will reveal edible California plants, and the Urban Homestead will discuss water-wise urban farming.

Has anyone been practicing their aquaponics? Our spellcheck highlights that word when we type it, but it’s a “thing.”

Aquaponics: a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish, or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. (

Examples of early aquaponic systems are cited in China, Thailand, Indonesia, and even dating back to the Aztecs and their “cultivated agricultural islands known as chinampas.”




Scott Henley of Whisper Farms will divulge the ins and outs of this soil-free way to cultivate plants. “It’s a very efficient way to grow things in a small space,” he says in a film short by Johnny Sanphillippo. “And, it also provides a protein source in the form of fish.” Henley is in his backyard on an 8,000 square foot lot. He tosses food to some tilapia he’s “farming.”

“The tilapia produce ammonia, essentially, in their waste and that waste gets converted by a series of naturally occurring bacterias into nitrate, ultimately. And the nitrate will feed the plants.” He shows a huge flat of watercress that’s flourishing, basically sitting in a pond of water, which then is filtered back to the fish. Other plants are sitting in holes drilled through styrofoam so their roots are always sitting, growing, in the water underneath. It’s a re-circulatory system.

This past summer, Henley was hoping to start growing Maringa (m. ovalifolia), which is native to the sub-Himalayan areas. According to webmd, it contains proteins, vitamins, minerals and works as an antioxidant. Because it can been grown cheaply and easily, it is an important food source and is used in India and Africa to fight malnutrition. “It’s 38 to 39 percent protein,” Henley says.

“I think you just have to take a look at what you have in front of you. And, it doesn’t need to be perfect—it’s incremental. I think it’s really more of a mindset, if you start to raise your awareness of what you can do personally…in your own environment.”




The L.A. River Rover will be at Wonderful Water Fest with their truck full of exhibits and history will be on hand. Find information on the parks that line the river and kayaking on the river—”connecting to nature in an urban setting.” JPL Senior Research Scientist Bonnie Buratti will ponder water on mars and the Arroyo Seco Foundation will focus on river restoration.

Kids are welcome to come dressed as river creatures for the costume parade, make a worm tunnel for the community garden, make fish art, discover tiny river creatures under a microscope, make an origami frog, and participate in a spoken word workshop with Kenyan poet Minda Magero.


The Farmer's Yard; photo by Dan Radecki

The Farmer’s Yard; photo by Dan Radecki


Wonderful Water
Saturday, Nov. 15th, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
138 W. Howard St., NW Pasadena 91103
Free event
For details, visit


Frog by David Derudas and Brian Carper at Origami Gallery

Frog by David Derudas and Brian Carper at Origami Gallery




Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

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