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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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Aquaponics

Economic Sustainability of Large-scale Aquaponics Subject of University Research

February 8, 2016 |
Maize High School in suburban Wichita, Kansas features an extensive hydroponics program. (photo courtesy of Jay Super/Maize High School)

Maize High School in suburban Wichita, Kansas features an extensive hydroponics program. (Photo courtesy of Jay Super/Maize High School)

Two years ago Claude Galipeault approached Georgia’s Armstrong State University Biology Department head Matthew Draud with a novel research idea: testing the economic sustainability of aquaponics.

Draud’s curiosity was piqued and he decided to visit Galipeault to check out his aquaponic system, which he had constructed in his basement.

“I quickly identified with his mission – it was focused on inventing technologies to make aquaponic systems more economically sustainable,” Draud says. “Since that meeting, I brought the idea of a collaboration to university officials, who were supportive assuming I could find the funding. I discovered that The Forum Group Charitable Foundation had funds dedicated to research into the profitability of aquaponics systems and eventually secured a $100,000 donation to support our project.” Read More

Hydroponic Farm in Alaska Combats Weather and Produce Shortfall by Growing Indoors, and Upward

January 28, 2016 |
Hydroponic organic lettuce from Alaska Natural Organics (ANO) Vertical Farm. Photo Courtesy of ANO.

Hydroponic organic lettuce from Alaska Natural Organics (ANO) Vertical Farm. Photo Courtesy of ANO.

The idea for Anchorage, Alaska-based hydroponic vertical farm Alaska Natural Organics was conceived when Jason Smith was working as a surveyor in the Frontier state. Smith and his wife had recently become interested in becoming healthier due to family health issues. 

“We just became a little bit more aware of what we were putting in our bodies; reading more about it. And in this process we started trying to eat healthier,” he says. The couple tried to buy organic produce of all types whenever possible.

In doing so, Smith became very aware of the high price of produce in Alaska, and the unfortunate reality that the quality of fresh produce in the state is often poor. Read More

Aquaponics Startup Revolutionizes Farming in Pittsburgh’s Backyards and Around the World

November 18, 2015 |
Photo courtesy of Colleen Beck.

Photo courtesy of Colleen Beck.

Through her work in international development, Colleen Beck witnessed how people utilize water to grow food around the globe in Kenya, China and Thailand.

Returning to Pennsylvania, she was asked to research an aquaponics system for the faith-based NGO,  MTEC International, which does international mission work. After creating two custom systems, she decided to launch Seed Aquaponics LLC in December 2014 and take the business global, seeing aquaponic farming as an “obvious solution” to managing water use in agriculture.

Beck says that she was drawn to aquaponic farming because of the efficiency of the practice. Food can be grown twice as fast as conventional methods, using 90 percent less water. By nature, aquaponic farming is also organic. Any chemicals in the water would kill the fish, not to mention the systems eliminate the risk of water contamination from sewage, floods or runoff. Read More

Solutions Farms Combats Family Homelessness with Aquaponics Training in Vista, CA

October 6, 2015 |
Photo courtesy of Solutions for Change.

Photo courtesy of Solutions for Change.

In addressing homelessness with an aquaponics training program, Solutions Farms provides an opportunity for families to regain not only their financial footing and place in the community, but also their security and happiness. Solution Farms is a program that was created by Solutions for Change, a Vista, California-based nonprofit established in 1999 to address local family homelessness in innovative ways.

Kevin Gorham is the aquaponics specialist at Solution Farms. He came to the initiative with little experience, but plenty of enthusiasm.

“I heard about this place being built, so I drove over here and introduced myself. I just kept bothering them and telling them I’d like a job here. Once the system was up and going, they hired me to stay on and help manage and run it,” says Gorham. “I learned a lot more through my hands-on experience working here over the last three years.” Read More

Fish Atop a City Rooftop in Brooklyn Power Farming Startup

September 29, 2015 |
 VertiCulture’s Founders left to right: Miles Crettien, Ryan Morningstar, Jacob Hill, Peter Spartos. Courtesy of Ryan Morningstar.

VertiCulture’s Founders left to right: Miles Crettien, Ryan Morningstar, Jacob Hill, Peter Spartos. Courtesy of Ryan Morningstar.

On top of a former Pfizer building in Downtown Brooklyn fish and produce grow together in a symbiotic system. The rooftop venture VertiCulture Farms, established in 2012, is an indoor aquaponic farm that offers fresh produce and fish to the surrounding area through several sales channels. The founders hope their rooftop farm model will illustrate the potential of aquaponics in cities.

“We’d heard about hydroponics and aquaponics before, and thought we’d give it a shot,” says Ryan Morningstar, one of the cofounders of the startup based in Brooklyn, New York.  “We set up a small installation on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Exchange Building in downtown Brooklyn with recycled materials. We put a system together, got some tilapia and we saw that it worked.” Read More

With Roots in Soilless Growing and Desire to Promote Health, Couple Sets Sights on Aquaponics Operation

July 24, 2015 |
Ruth and Noah Smucker are seen next to a small aquaponics system inside their home in Goshen, Indiana. They plan to install a larger enclosed aquaponics system in their yard, with their eyes on even further expansion. (photo courtesy of Noah and Ruth Smucker)

Ruth and Noah Smucker are seen next to a small aquaponics system inside their home in Goshen, Indiana. They plan to install a larger enclosed aquaponics system in their yard, with their eyes on even further expansion. (Photo courtesy of Noah and Ruth Smucker)

An aquaponics operation is coming to Goshen, Indiana, a town in the northern part of the state already rich with farms and a culture of local food.

Given the name High Water Mark by its founders, husband and wife Noah and Ruth Smucker, the aquaponics farm will be a source of organic produce.

Aquaponics combines hydroponics with the raising of fish, so plants and fish sustain each other.

Currently, the Smuckers have a small aquaponics system upstairs in their house, but what they plan to do is tear down their garage and build a 700-square-foot greenhouse in its place. They hope to have this completed later this year. Read More

Buffalo’s Vertical Fresh Farms Aims for Big Production in a Small Footprint

July 8, 2015 |
Photo courtesy of Vertical Fresh Farms

Photo courtesy of Vertical Fresh Farms

Vertical Fresh Farms is a small aquaponic operation in Buffalo, New York. How small? The vertical farm is small enough to fit into owner Jeremy Witt’s garage.

That’s all by design. Witt and Matt Latham, the farm’s other co-owner, planned Vertical Fresh Farms’ small but sustainable layout.

From 2011 until spring of 2014, Latham and Witt intensely researched aquaponics to figure out how they could afford to build their own farm.

“Last year, we finally decided that we would start small and started out with a prototype,” Witt says. The prototype takes up an area that’s about 250 square feet. Read More

Wisconsin Public-Private Partnership Builds New Aquaponics Innovation Center

June 16, 2015 |
Replication Systems of the UWSP-Aquaponics Innovation Center

Replication Systems of the UWSP-Aquaponics Innovation Center | Courtesy UWSP-Aquaponics Innovation Center

A new Aquaponics Innovation Center (AIC) in Montello, Wisconsin is the result of a public-private partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) and Nelson and Pade, Inc. Read More