The Project Goal
With the combined efforts of Colorado Aquaponics and The GrowHaus, our goal for this project is to build a community based, commercial aquaponic system in a 3,200 sf space inside the GrowHaus to grow high quality food, create educational opportunities and support local green jobs. The GrowHaus is located in a Northwest Denver neighborhood considered a food desert (read more about the GrowHaus below). The greenhouse is currently being renovated with completion scheduled by mid to late august.
We want to get the system built, operating and producing food as soon as possible, hopefully before winter. We will then continue to work with renewable energy options such as passive solar heating and solar photovoltaic to provide the necessary energy for net-zero operations. While aquaponics uses only about 10% of the water of traditional agriculture and greatly decreases energy consumption, we ultimately plan to achieve a fully sustainable food production system that is not reliant on any fossil fuels or other non renewable energy sources.
About the Aquaponics System
The proposed aquaponics system (a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics) is a commercial design based upon a model that is already successfully operating combining raft culture and media growbeds. The system will produce approximately 40,000 heads of the freshest, chemical free salad and cooking greens, culinary herbs, and nutrient rich vegetables, along with 1,500lbs of fish while producing zero waste. It is expected that the system will be able to pay its ongoing operational expenses through food sales and other farm related revenue.
Minimum construction expenses are expected to be $15,000
Your Support will allow us to…
- Purchase the construction materials, plumbing, water and air pumps, construction lumber, fish tanks and growing media. All purchases will be from local businesses and repurposed materials whenever possible
- Stock the tanks with fish to start the system, to provide the constant nutrient water supply and eventually grow out to provide a local, high quality protein source for community members and restaurants.
- Purchase nets, fish feed, water quality test kits and other components necessary for maintaining a healthy fish population
- Purchase seeds, planting media, trays, and equipment necessary for seeding, transplanting, growing and harvesting the most abundant and nutritious vegetables
- Purchase bio security components such as gloves, hand and shoe sanitizer, equipment sterilizer, and food storage bins to comply with food safety best practices
- Purchase products for integrated pest management including beneficial bugs such as lady bugs and aphidous wasps, as well as other organically approved chemical free control methods
- Provide basic wages to people involved in constructing the system. People involved will be gaining valuable skills in the process of constructing this system, but currently there is no budget to pay them for their time. Going forward, we see many aquaponics systems operating in community centers, schools, places of worship and other locations in the future, and we hope that the skills gained through building this system can be used in many of these new locations to continue giving back to other communities both locally and around the world.
- Provide training and pay someone to manage the system through its startup cycle. This is a natural ecosystem which takes 4 to 6 weeks to get going and we would be able to pay someone to manage the system through this process
- Allow us to continue to develop renewable energy solutions such as passive solar thermal systems to provide a source of heat for the water without reliance on fossil fuels
- Provide food and beverages during construction
- Purchase of additional materials, fuel, and other incidental costs commonly found in large, complex projects
About the GrowHaus
Everyone deserves a healthy meal. But in some communities, healthy food simply isn't available. The GrowHaus is a non-profit urban farm and market in one such community - northeast Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood. Our mission is to grow healthy community through food access, production and education.
The GrowHaus is based in an old 20,000 square-foot greenhouse that was purchased in late 2009. We're currently growing and teaching in a small part of that greenhouse as we renovate more of our space to accommodate increased food production, educational facilities, and a local market. We operate based on a "triple-bottom-line" model incorporating the following core values:
Environmental Sustainability - The GrowHaus aims to grow an abundance of food year-round while minimizing our consumption of water, energy and soil, and by making extensive use of reused and recycled materials. We are guided in these efforts by permaculture, a design philosophy that draws from a deep understanding of healthy ecosystems.
Social Sustainability - The GrowHaus depends on the support and involvement of our neighbors, and on ensuring their voices are heard. We strive to promote healthy lifestyles in our community and beyond, engage in open dialogue across boundaries of race, class and culture, and empower residents to take their health into their own hands. Our long-term goal is to have The GrowHaus managed and operated entirely by Elyria-Swansea residents.
Economic Sustainability - Although the GrowHaus is structured as a non-profit, we aim to generate half of our revenue in-house by 2013. To that end, we are pursuing several mission-driven sources of earned income, including restaurant and market sales, service learning and educational workshops, and space rental.
What is Aquaponics?
Aquaculture - Farming aquatic species in a controlled environment AND Hydroponics - The growing of plants in soil-less media
Aquaponics is a unique, synergistic growing technique in which fish and plants are grown together, mimicking a natural ecosystem. The nutrient rich water from the fish tanks provide an abundant fertilizer for the plants. The plants, in turn, clean and filter the water that returns to the fish tank. Aquaponic gardening uses less than 10% of the water consumed by traditional soil based growing methods and can sustainably produce food that is 100% organic, with no worries about chemical fertilizers, pesticides or mercury. Aquaponics is one part of the future food production puzzle critical to feeding an increasing population while current agriculture and aquaculture are stressed by drought, soil issues, water contamination, declining fish populations and other factors. Now is the time to begin implementing aquaponics to build local and sustainable food security, improve community health through access to nutritious foods, and lessen the demands on natural resources and waste related to food production.
- (29 days)