Backyard Garden Pool? What a Fantastic Idea!

Backyard Garden Pool? What a Fantastic Idea!

We just today ran across this great piece by Sara Bernard at Grist.Org about a non profit called GardenPool.Org (link to article at end of this article.)

It’s about a couple named Dennis and Danielle McClung who, like many of us, wanted to learn to live sustainably and were moving along learning more ways to do this when they bought a foreclosure home in 2009.  The home had a broken down pool in it’s backyard – you’ve probably seen some of these on the various real estate reality shows where the pools are often times half full of algae and etc.  So rather than spend big bucks to get it working and to maintain it they came up with the idea of using it for a backyard garden.


From the article…

He built a plastic cap over it and started growing things inside.

Thus, with help from family and friends and a ton of internet research, Garden Pool was born. What was once a yawning cement hole was transformed into an incredibly prolific closed-loop ecosystem, growing everything from broccoli and sweet potatoes to sorghum and wheat, with chickens, tilapia, algae, and duckweed all interacting symbiotically to provide enough food to feed a family of five.

Within a year, Garden Pool had slashed up to three-quarters of the McClungs’ monthly grocery bill (they still buy things like cooking oil and coffee and, well, one can’t eat tilapia every day). Within five years, it’d spawned an active community of Garden Pool advocates – and Garden Pools – across the country and the world.

What began as a family experiment and blog is now a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a small staff. Garden Pool has been voted the Best Backyard Farm in Phoenix, gotten press from National Geographic TV and Wired and Make, and formed a Phoenix-area Meetup group that has nearly a thousand members. It’s attracted hundreds of local volunteers, students, and gardeners who’ve helped build a dozen more Garden Pool systems in and around Phoenix.

 …At first, McClung just wanted his own family to live more sustainably. Now that he’s seen the all the traction these ideas are getting, and how awesomely productive a Garden Pool can be, he says, “I want everyone else to build great systems.”

…He manages pest control by doing things like adding ladybugs for the aphids and selecting plants like marigolds and garlic, which repel whiteflies and spider mites, respectively.

…As far as they’ve come in the past five years, though, Dennis says they’re just rolling up their sleeves. Now that all the nonprofit paperwork is settled, Garden Pool staff can apply for grants, and, he hopes, “hop from place to place and make stuff happen.” He’d like to help build more Garden Pools in Haiti, Africa, South America, and across the globe, and eventually become something of an international hub for closed-loop system research.

… What inspires me is watching families’ lives being changed, watching communities change, observing the change.”

Source Article:

Here’s a great video about and their adventure (we’ve also added a second video about – please see the link below this video.)

Garden Pool from Dark Rye on Vimeo.

(Note: We have also added a follow up article with a short video documentary about the sustainability efforts and goals of  If you like this then you’ll think it’s a must see – Click here to go there now.)




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