The inspiration and ideal for creating an indoor aquaponic farm came from my passion for food and the desire to have access to fresh organically grown vegetables, all year around. If you know me, then you know that I usually like to go against the grain. I also like a challenge. Aquaponics seemed like both.
My interest was sparked in the Summer of 2012, while I was for a way to conserve water while farming and gardening. I was trying to grow as much as possible in limited space, about an acre in my back yard. For the past decade, I have grown corn, tomatoes, peppers, melons, beans, peas, beets, basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, bamboo, broccoli, carrots and greens. After one of the hottest and driest Summers on record, I began doing research about how I could reuse and recycle water for my plants. I eventually came across some instructional Aquaponic videos on the internet. Since I love fish, (eating, catching and raising), just as much as I love food (growing, cooking, and feeding) a challenge, and a passion was born.
What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics is essentially a type of hydroponics and it acts as a great controlling measure to protect the environment from the harmful effects of a few substances which pollute the environment. It’s principally a perfect combination of aquaculture and hydroponics.
Ideally, aquaponics consists of two main things – fish culture and hydroponics, i.e. planting without soil in water as a medium.
These two aspects of aquaponics complement each other to work efficiently.
If planned properly with good equipment and proper knowledge then aquaponics can surely give you good yield. As this method is on similar principles as hydroponics, you do not use soil.
The fish waste serves as food for plants while plants generate oxygen for the fish to survive and breathe. With this symbiotic process you can create a healthy growing atmosphere for fishes as well as the plants.
After establishing a successful system, and growing food for personal use, I decided that I wanted to do more than just grow food for my family. I started asking friends if they would like to have access to fresh veggies year around. By word of mouth, social networking and the seasons changing, I got an overwhelming response and about ½ dozen requests for herbs and micro greens from a few "Farm-to-Table" chefs, sandwich shop and café owners.
As of now I have 2 successful and committed chefs and 2 "sandwich shop" owners, that have promised to buy whatever produce I grow. I have had to stop accepting clients, until I have more space.
I have acquired all business licenses and permits needed to go forward. This project is monumental for me and will serve as my first large-scale garden/farm. Ideally it will be a place of learning and understanding how aquaponics works. Our building is about 1,600 square feet.
In addition to providing fresh organic locally grown chemical free vegetables, we will also be providing training and classes, materials, space and tools for anyone who would like to design and build a small or large system.
Is Success Really Possible? The ultimate goal is to provide a one-stop shop for herbs, vegetables, and fruits, education on how aquaponics works, and a place purchase or use the materials to make it all happen.
Yes! When you live in the Urban Core, there is limited access to fresh produce. This is a problem that every city can relate to. No matter what city you live in, there is always a pocket of any given neighborhood that may be considered a "food desert". The ultimate goal of this project is to invite people into a place where they can learn how to be somewhat self-reliant and eat healthier by putting what they learn to use. We hope that anyone and everyone, would play all of the understanding and education forward.
The donations for this project will help pay for materials involved in expanding the garden, that I already have going.
• Fish Tanks
• Grow Beds and Medium
• Pumps and Growing Lights • Seeds and Fish • Misc set up equipment (nets, air stones, tubing, nuts and bolts)
I am always sewing seeds and I am hoping to acquire the building by early December. The plan is to open the “farm” in January 2013, in Kansas City, Mo.
Thank you to everyone that has and will participate in helping me make this happen. I know for sure that their are people, just like me, that are looking forward to having access to locally grown fresh produce, all year around. I stand by my word: My product, is Quality.
Harvest Time is always near.
What is in the Future for Fish Veggie Farm?
Guest Speakers, Social Networking Events, Workshops on: Red Wigglers and Composting, Eating Healthier, Growing techniques, Trouble shooting problems with vegetables and/or fish, and "You Grow This, I Grow That" community food sharing projects, lessons on how to save seeds, and vegetable cooking classes.
We plan on raising and selling live fresh fish in the Fall of 2013.
I encourage you to read the .pdf file linked below by Peter Warshall. It will really help you understand what I am aiming to accomplish.
DNM co-director Peter Warshall, a polymath biologist, anthropologist and former public official who created “The Age of Local Foodsheds” map this is his project’s findings:DNM_foodsheds_pamphlet.pdf
Our Name will be changing to "Urban Harvest KC" in 2013
Risks and challenges
Are There Any Challenges?
1. The initial expenses involved for housing, tank, plumbing, pumps and grow beds.
Solution: I am counting on family, friends, neighbors, community leaders, and anyone that cares about access to healthy food, contributing to making this happen. I am applying for a grant in the Spring to keep building.
2. Many of the systems installed require man made energy, technological solutions and environmental control for recirculation of water and maintaining the temperature.
Ebb and Flow. Eventually a system should be designed to use alternative energy and gravity to reduce pumping which is very energy efficient. The challenge will be keeping the water regulated to promote healthy, active fish. I have been a keeper of fish for over 30 years. A simple water testing kit and other trade secrets is how I keep my fish happy.
3. With a careful design for the system can minimize the risk involved but the aquaponic system has multiple single point failure issues like electrical failure and blockage in the pipes.
Love what feeds you. As a dedicated gardener, I check the systems daily for problems. In the morning I check on the fish first, they get fed. Then I check perform a systems check. Lastly we check the plants and take notes on the growth and then test the water. This is done more than once a day.
4. How do you plan on staying sustainable, while running lights and pumps continuously.
This is honestly my biggest fear, because I am not sure how much I will be using, and how much it will actually cost me. One of the highest cost for framers and gardeners, is water and seed. The initial set up of the system involves a great deal of water, yes. However the water I use, is recycled through the system. An occasional top off may be needed.
As far as electricity goes, for the most part, every item running is on a timed system. It is important to mimic normal grow hours, for photosynthesis to work. I also recycle the dead plants and heavy fish waste through composting with red worms.
There are plans for installing solar to off set some of the cost, for running the system. I have a partner, who works for a company that designs and installs solar, projects have been discussed.
The Positive outweighs the negative in so many ways.
◦ Aquaponics Systems use 90 to 95% LESS WATER than is used in traditional agricultural farming methods. We use NO SOIL. All the food grown in our systems grows in grow beds filled with gravel. ◦ Fish Veggie Farms use NO pesticides or fertilizers. Minimal Pest indoors ◦ One full-sized commercial unit of 10,000 square feet (1/4 acre) feeds 240 people all the food they need to be healthy FOREVER (excluding ‘root crops’ such as potatoes and carrots and grains). ◦ The Farms are very GREEN and organic. ◦ Portable Farms can be operated by semi-skilled labor and brings permanent jobs and income to areas where the farms are operating. ◦ Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems are modular and suitable for large commercial growing operations, or for smaller units intended to feed small groups and families. ◦ Aquaponics is an environmentally safe and productive alternative to over-harvesting fish from oceans, rivers and streams by growing a fresh water, warm water fish.
1 Plant to name and follow (our choice). You will receive updates, pictures, and news on growth and when we are harvesting that plant. Every time we harvest, you can pick up 1 fruit from that plant or a starter of like variety. "Fish Veggie Farm" T-Shirt
Monthly email newsletter announcing classes and sessions.
Weekly email store alert. Announces what we will have available that week.
My sincerest thank you and your picture on the website and Facebook.
Basket of Vegetables for 6 months and Micro Greens for a Year.
Whenever we harvest and you would like fresh vegetables or fruit. We will make you a basket of plenty. A complete installation of 10 gallon aquaponic system, with video instruction (minus grow media, water, & fish) "Fish Veggie Farm" T-Shirt.
Kansas City Metro Only