Alumnus co-founds urban agriculture company
By Frank Arbogast, Courtesy of GCC&M
Enzo Pinga ’11 made the 8,590 mile trek from his native Philippines to Gettysburg College in 2007. Just five years later, Enzo returned to the Philippines to make a difference.
“I thought, what better place to make a difference than in my home country, the Philippines,” said Enzo, who decided after his study abroad experiences that he “must do something that would make an impact.”
He says it was the valuable knowledge and experiences he gained at Gettysburg that equipped him for his path after graduation and cultivated his global understanding and desire to help others. Traveling to South Africa for a semester abroad, then returning shortly after graduation on a Project for Peace grant, made a particularly strong impact on Enzo.
In 2012, Enzo, a member of Lambda Chi Alpha, cofounded Bahay Kubo Organics, a non-profit urban farming and sustainability company that aims to help grow fresh food for the individuals and communities who need it the most. To Enzo, this meant not only providing less fortunate communities with fresh food, but also building those communities around urban agriculture.
“What struck us the most was the idea of a vertical farm in the city – a building that is producing lots of food with zero waste,” said Enzo. Being a recent graduate, he knew this was an ambitious goal, but after some research he came across an exciting new system. Said Enzo,“We discovered aquaponics, a technology people were using to increase efficiency and maximize space for urban farming.”
BK Organics specializes in aquaponic systems, which combine aquaculture – raising freshwater fish, with hydroponics – cultivating plants in water. Waste from the aquatic animals is broken down to vital nutrients and used to fertilize the plants, while the water is circulated back into the system.
Aquaponics is a relatively new technology, and BKO is on the forefront of implementing it. In order to create successful prototypes, Enzo conducted research with the Filipino Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. Enzo has taken this knowledge to work in the Metro Manila area educating communities on urban agriculture, and is actively presenting his work with urban agriculture at sustainability conventions.
“Our mission is to spread the technology as far and wide as we can, building farms in places that need it most, for people that do not have regular access to healthy food,” said Enzo.
BK Organics has already worked with numerous non-profit and charitable organizations in the Philippines, including the Fairplay for All Foundation, an organization for the empowerment of street children, who commissioned BKO to build a rooftop farm at one of their centers to help improve the kids’ nutrition.
The Mu Sigma Phi fraternity at the University of Philippines, along with the Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST) also contracted BKO to build a farm in the city of Las Piñas in order to provide nutritious vegetables and fresh fish to the community.
Enzo’s journey in the last seven years has come full circle, having travelled far from home only to return with a wealth of knowledge and experience from his time at Gettysburg College.
Now, Enzo’s next journey begins. BK Organics is striving to spread urban agriculture technology all over the world, especially to the people who need it most.
To Enzo, his time as an undergrad prepared him for this new chapter.
“It’s about more than a Gettysburg education, it is a Gettysburg experience.”