Grow Food, Grow Hope
Where do we go as a society? What are our goals? Do we seek
help or do we seek to help? How can we help? For years I've done what I
can for others with very little. As an American I always want more for
myself but what really are my needs? We all have basic needs like food and
housing. What about those without? How far should charity have to go? Do
'we' have to provide? Should we provide? Or should we teach, encourage,
and push those in need to help themselves and others in the process?
Looking back on my past seeing that I didn't have nutritious meals on a day
to day basis and realizing there are still children and adults in our
country and around the world that don't have those opportunities for
something like fresh vegetables and ethically raised meats drives me to want
to provide a way. Not to provide directly but to find ways in every
environment for anyone to be able to grow and sustain their own gardens
indoors and out. Aquaponics is one such way. It is not, nor is any other
method, the cure all that is needed. It is and can be a huge step in the
right direction. Mixed with other aspects of permaculture we can see inner
city communities, rural areas, and potentially even harsh environments
growing healthy sustainable foods.
Where do we start? How do we get there? Well, that's the beauty of our
modern age. More and more information is being disseminated across the
Internet with greater accessibility. While the information is there for all
to find the real work it getting the information directly into the hands of
those who can do something. Not everyone has the resources to find this
information or in many cases even know what to look for. Outreach is a
necessity. That whole feed a man a fish versus teach a man to fish thing.
And with aquaponics.... well, there's the fish!
My limited experience with aquaponics to date has been fairly positive. Many
folks have had positive experiences. I've seen Youtube videos where people
have utterly failed but really, it's their own damn fault when doing
something like mixing your fish with straight tap water which contains a
fair amount of chlorine! I add water to my system regularly due to
evaporation but generally it is after I let a bucket sit overnight or only
add a small amount to reduce poisoning the system. Don't be a noob! If
you've never taken care of fish don't expect to just jump into aquaponics. I
never put additives in my water like a dechlorinator. The idea is to keep
the system as close to organic and natural as possible. ESPECIALLY if you
intend to grow your fish for food as well.
Where does that leave my personal system? In a state of growth! I've grown a
fair amount of assorted greens which we've continuously harvested and
consumed. I had a basil plant from 2016 still doing good in June of 2017. As
as experiment I planted a couple of cannabis seeds I was given and shocking
have grown an incredibly healthy vibrant plant under LED lighting. A second
plant is in the shadows hanging on as best it can and the third plant got
completely overshadowed and was transferred out to a garden bed to continue
the experiment. My goal isn't to produce cannabis but if it is a viable crop
then why not? It is incredibly healthy to eat putting kale to shame and you
won't be getting high eating fresh green leaves. The one plant had actually
gotten so broad from trying to trim it back then went male that I just
killed it off to get my bed back! It was after all just an experiment. That
second aforementioned plant is still holding on but now I have nothing else
in the bed. Pepper seeds I tossed in there may be a bust but I would love
fruiting plants in the winter.
What do YOU need to get started? Well it can be as simple as a counter
top kit from Amazon to grow herbs in your kitchen to a grow bed over
an existing aquarium on to full fledged systems with IBC totes and stock
tanks. Even existing ponds can have the beneficial waste recycled into well
styled beds that overflow back into the pond creating more oxygen.