Biomatrix has been working together with Urban Rivers to address the issues of the lack of green space and wildlife habitat around Goose Island in the Chicago River. Urban Rivers is a nonprofit, grassroots initiative that has been involved in greening the urban area for the past years. A crowdfund campaign was launched to install a floating riverbank that is envisioned to be half a mile long by 2020, consisting of thousands of our island ecosystems. In June 2017, the first 1500 square feet of the floating gardens were installed and planted.

One important goal of this project is to experiment with growing edible plants on the floating islands, thereby adopting the principles of aquaponics, where nutrients in the water feed the plants. In this living example of “river ponics”, there are now ripe tomatoes, squashes and herbs growing on our floating riverbanks along Goose island. The crops, once harvested, will be extensively tested to evaluate the safety of growing food on the Chicago River.

Due to the successful fundraising campaign, community involvement was high and more than 50 volunteers turned up to help planting the islands. Wildlife surveys will be held to monitor the effectiveness of the floating islands for aquatic wildlife and birds.