By Seth Connell
Aquaponics is a wonderful way to grow lots of food in small spaces without any harmful chemicals. When most people hear the term they assume it deals with marijuana and abandon any interest. That needs to change. So, just what is aquaponics all about you ask?
In a few words, aquaponics is the future of food production. These systems can symbiotically grow plants, fish, and gourmet fungi together using only 5-10% of the water used with in-soil methods. Food is grown in dense raised beds with water and media instead of soil. One pump can run an entire farm, allowing gravity to pull water from bed to bed; drastically reducing any utility bill. Add vertical farming and you have high-density and sustainable urban food production in very small spaces.
Natural processes break down the fish poo into absorbable micro-nutrients and compounds that feed plant growth. Fungi eat the leftovers then the cleaned water returns to the fish to repeat the cycle. As a result we have contained ecosystems with all the players in position to provide a healthy bounty of diverse organic food. Since no horse-manure or mammal fertilizer is used, there is a greatly reduced risk of food-borne illnesses.
Systems come in all shapes and sizes. From tiny 5 gallon fish-tanks outfitted with custom grow-beds to giant multi-acre commercial farms, each system follows the same ecological principles of biomimicry. That is, using only naturally occurring organisms and compounds to imitate nature. There is no room for GMO’s, pesticides, chemicals, or antibiotics.
The above principles are just the tip of the aquaponics iceberg. There’s a lot to learn but help is available! Here in Washington the main places to learn more are:
- Anything Aquaponics and True Blue Aquaponics in Seattle
- Farmer Frog in Snohomish County.
Come join the aquaponic revolution and support yourself and your community!
Seth is Seattle-raised and has been an aquaponics professional since 2012 after becoming certified through U. of Hawaii & NOAA. Having interned at Olomana Gardens for 9 months under Aquaponics Guru Glenn Martinez, he learned to properly manage, design, build, and quote systems. He has built for colleges, restaurants, churches, K-12 schools, and individuals. Bringing his experiences back to the PNW he aspires to improve the local food economy and to establish our local-food security. To find out more, go to Anything Aquaponics on Facebook and Meetup.com, or call him directly at 206-451-9188.