Down in the Basement: A drug bust leads to an ag boom

story by Liz PachecoYou’ve heard of rooftop agriculture, but what about basement farming? The Partnership CDC, a 17-year-old community development organization, is raising peppers, collard greens, tomatoes and tilapia, all in the basement and first floor of their building on 60th Street. By using an aquaponics system, where fish are raised and produce grown in a symbiotic system, the Partnership is expecting to harvest about 7,500 pounds of vegetables and a ton of fish, annually.

The aquaponics system, which was built from equipment seized in an October 2011 drug bust, is part of the Partnership’s Urban Food Lab and the second phase in their redevelopment plan for the 60th Street neighborhood. “We needed to bring something [to 60th Street] that was going to address a lot of things,” says Steve Williams, the Partnership’s executive director. “Having an urban farm on a larger scale, especially an aquaponics farm, will create jobs [and] would bring foot traffic to the corridor, which would enhance the possibility of doing commerce for the other businesses.”

For more information on the Partnership CDC, visit