The Tucson AquaPonics Project has been created to bring community-scale aquaponics to the desert Southwest and then to similar climates around the world, as well as support backyard aquaponics, by providing training, resources and assembling a network of people who can help each other to successfully implement both private and non-profit aquaponics systems.
In these difficult economic times helping each other is more important than ever. The current news headlines are proclaiming not just significant increases in the price of food, but actual food shortages. Many people have already suffered the loss of their jobs, their homes and even their self-esteem. Others are now just barely making it from paycheck to paycheck. In fact, too many people now have more ‘month’ left over at the end of the paycheck than the other way around.
Community Aquaponics Centers can help to both feed and employ people. And not just here in Tucson, but around the world. The systems we design and perfect here in Tucson in the coming months can be set up in other parts of the US and the world that have a climate similar to ours.
Individual Aquaponics Systems can provide food for a family, with extra to be traded or sold to neighbours, or at a farmer’s market.
What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics is the growing of fish and plants together in a closed recirculating system. The fish are housed and fed in an appropriate tank and the water is circulated to growing areas for a very diverse crop of vegetables, herbs, flowers and other plants. The plants, helped by beneficial bacteria, effectively clean the water by utilizing the nutrients excreted by the fish and the clean water is then recirculated to the fish. Very little land area, water or electricity is required to operate an aquaponics system. Research from Hawaii indicates that:
* Aquaponics uses a small fraction of the water than traditional farming does.
* Aquaponics is energy-efficient: current systems use one-tenth of the energy conventional farming does.
* Aquaponics has up to eight times more vegetable production in the same area and time.
* Aquaponics is fully scalable from indoor systems to backyard family systems to full commercial systems.
* Aquaponics is pure, clean, and natural: systems can be USDA Certified Organic and Food Safety Certified.
“So, we grow the plants by feeding the fish. The fish waste is the fertilizer that the plants need to grow. As the plants grow and use those nutrients from the water, that cleans the water to go back to the fish. And because the water is contained and recirculated we save up to 70% of the water used by growing plants aquaponically than by growing them in the soil. There is very little water lost to evaporation, or by soaking down below the root zone as there is in the soil.” – Casey Townsend
next: See the Why Aquaponics? post to learn more.
Local Roots Aquaponics
Stéphane Herbert-Fort, Ph.D. runs Local Roots Aquaponics, a small aquaponic farm and aquaponics service and consulting business in central Tucson. Local Roots Aquaponics is providing all-natural aquaponic produce to Tucson residents and restaurants. You can find them online at localrootsaquaponics.com or on their public Facebook page, where they frequently post.