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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Fish & Greens, grown together

Aquaponic Gardens Effective Food Producers

By ecoRI.org News staff
Earth Day (April 22) is the anniversary of the birth of what many believe is the modern-day environmental movement, with the first Earth Day taking place in 1970. Each year the celebration serves as a reminder of how to better preserve and protect the planet.

The good news is that even making small changes can add up to big results. For example, “If even a small percentage of us started aquaponic gardens it could ... lead to a lot of positive results for the planet as a whole,” says Sylvia Bernstein, president of The Aquaponics Source and author of the book “Aquaponics Gardening: A Step-By-Step Guide to Raising Vegetables and Fish Together.”

According to Bernstein, there are many things that starting an aquaponic garden can do to help the environment. Here are five things she says to consider regarding aquaponic food production:

Necessarily organic produce. If you use pesticides or herbicides you will harm your fish and bacteria. If you use hormones or fish medicines you could harm your plants. An aquaponic system necessarily produces food that is free of chemicals. It can’t work any other way.

Grow using a 10th the water of dirt gardening. Since the water in an aquaponic system is recirculating rather than seeping into the groundwater, aquaponics uses far less water than traditional soil-based gardening. It’s also far more water thrifty than hydroponics because the nutrient solution is never dumped and replaced.

Turning a waste disposal problem into a valuable input. Aquaculture treats the waste the fish produce as a harmful byproduct to be disposed. Aquaponics turns that around and treats the waste as a valuable input into the plant growing part of the system. In nature there is no waste.

Growing plants hydroponically without hydroponic chemical fertilizers. Aquaponics offers the benefits of hydroponics — fast, closely spaced growth in a dirt-free, weed-free environment, without the need for discharging chemically saturated nutrient solution on a regular basis.


Growing your own food. The average distance most produce in the United States travels is 1,800 miles. When your food comes out of your backyard, no fossil fuel is used to transport it.