Rooftop Ecology System Notes

Food Waste in…

1. Processed by

Black Soldier Fly




2. Black Soldier Fly

40% conversion – organic waste to black soldier fly larvae

Protein, Fat  used in systems

Chitin out (there is a market for chitin)

Fly larvae fed to fish (replacing fish meal in a aquaponics system)

Fly larvae fed to chickens (again replacing protein supplements).

The metabolisms of the larvae generate significant heat, apparently enough to keep warms away. I am toying with the notion of having the bin help keep the fish tank warm. Waste heat needs to be considered a resource in systems.

3. Earthworms

Interesting fact: Earthworms grow faster when fed on Black Soldier Fly secretions.

Earthworms produce vermicompost and wormcasts. This produces the resources allowing the system to practically self-replicate.

Earthworms also produce enzymes, used for industrial cleaners (to market)

The worm tea obtained by soaking the vermicompost would be added to the water supply for the self irrigated planters. There’s some concern on my part as to whether this could be dispensed into the common water supply feeding the irrigation spaces at the bottom of the SIP system, or whether it would be better to dispense it into the soil from above.

4. Chickens

Chicken meat (food)

Chicken Eggs (food)

Chicken Shells (Korean Natural Farming Agro Input)

Chicken Manure (to composter)

Chicken Innards (to Black Soldier Fly)

Chicken feathers (possibility of using it to replace wood pulp in paper and hydrocarbons in plastic)

Chicken Bones (to Korean Natural Farming DIY inputs)

5. Rabbits

Rabbit meat.

Rabbit meat is very low in fat, generally in the 4% range. By contrast be, chicken and turkey are in the 20% range with pork up in the high 30s to low 40s.  Also, as a meat animal rabbits are very easy to process.  That being said every effort to make sure the rabbits are not cruelly treated should be taken. From a moral standpoint I tend to agree with the inuit and tribal groups who feel that harvesting animals for meat is fine so long as there is an agreement that you will act for the benefit of the species.

Rabbit fur (dunno clothes maybe?)

Rabbit fur is a bit of a problem I think. PETA and similar organizations are opposed to  industrial rabbit farming techniques, quite rightly I feel. However, this seems likely to impact small polyculture enterprises that treat their animals well. I need to learn more about space requirements and handling procedures to ensure happy and content rabbits.

Rabbit Innards (to black soldier fly)

I am against turning herbivores into carnivores. You never know, it could be that I have the human variant of BSE slowing ticking away in my head because farmers were feeding spinal cord and brain tissue direct to cattle. Though I’m no expert I think if such things are processed through one of more intermediary stages of consumption the risks would be greatly reduced. I’m a firm believer in the utility of ZERI’s five kingdom thinking.

(The five kingdoms are detailed here:

6.  Aquaponic Fish and Vegetables

Everything I read about aquaponics suggests that it is a highly productive, zero waste system for growing plants.  Water is heavy however, so I imagine its use on roofs would be limited in scope. On the other hand it appears that water plants like Azolla could flourish in such a system, apparently the only limiting factor for explosive Azolla growth is phosphorus. However Korean natural farming techniques detail DIY techniques which allow the recovery of phosphorus in animal bones and from sesame plants. I like the idea. I’ve always been in awe of the way the Sioux and other native tribes people have a use for every part of a creature, for me it shows respect and this is missing from industrial farming.

7. Self Irrigated Planter

I’ve been impressed by details on the net about how to DIY build Self Irrigated Planters (or SIPS).In connection with this I’ve been looking at perennial plants to put into them. Given that annuals might be better grown in the aquaponics system. Here’s a list of the plants that have attracted my attention thus far. I then need to see which ones could be grouped together into guilds, by that I mean the permaculture term for grouping companion plants together into collaborative communities. 

The List:


Nepalese Raspberry


Oregon Cut-Leaf Blackberry






French Scorzonera (Important)


Goldenberry (all parts except fruit (including fruit covering) are poisonous


Chinese Mallow (do not grow in nitrogen rich soils) (Important)

Musk Mallow (do not grow in nitrogen rich soils) (Important)

Malva Alcea (do not grow in nitrogen rich soils) (Important)


Sweet Potato (vine)

Hemerocallis varieties



Alpine strawberry (edible leaves)


Winter Squash

Campanula Versicolor (Important)


Sea Orach

Quebec Berry

Wild Garlic

Garlic Chives

Three cornered leek

Giant Chives


Serpent Garlic


Few flowered leek

Daffodil Garlic

Welsh Onion

Nodding Onion



Canadian Garlic

Wild Leek

Anise Hyssop

Kiwi fruit

Tara Vine


Wu Wei Zi (climbing vine)

Some of these climbers I’d like to stick on a wall net, mixing male and females of the same species…

8. Wall Nets

This is just something that occurred to me. I spend a lot of time looking at buildings in Tokyo, which is a pity because the architecture is simply awful. The reason I do this is because of the surfaces. The tiled surfaces on many of these buildings are beautiful. While doing this, and not walking around in an I-pod stupor (I swear I-pod means that it’s a place where you store your personality, for me it’s like solitary confinement without walls) I noted that a lot of walls were windowless and bathed in sunlight. Often the walls led down to a small space on the ground where a net could be anchored, and up to a roof where the other net hooks could find a home.  It also occurred to me that some vines like a lot of direct sunlight and others not so much. I then wonderered whether you could layer nets up and down the wall, and construct them like venetian blinds so that you could raise and lower the nets and pick your hardy kiwi off it. I’d imagine for vines coming down from the roof anchoring the SIPs down securely would be vital. The idea of a heavy vine pulling its SIP off the roof is the stuff of nightmares.

9. Beehive

Urban bees seem to be having a much easier time than country bees. What I’ve read suggests that bees prefer a vast choice of flowers to a thousand acre field of rapeseed. I came across information on the net about how to self build beehives. I have a book on order though.

10. Coffee grounds and Oyster Mushrooms

There’s no shortage of coffee shops in Tokyo. There’s also no shortage of dark narrow spaces between apartment buildings in Tokyo. Some are so narrow that I swear the architects wanted cats to have some private space. On the other hand I think it could be useful space for growing oyster mushrooms, with the spent strata getting mixed with the vermicompost and added to the SIPS.

Other considerations..

I’m investigating whether it’s possible to combine a worm bin and a bsf bin, into a multiple compartment device.  I dislike the thought of having to transfer BSF compost to the worm bin. Why not have a segregated big bin where the worms would go into a compartment after the BSF were finished eating and had been drawn into a separate cell? Anyway, just something to look into.


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