Atlantan Unveils Unique Aquaponic Farming Ecosystem
(APN) ATLANTA — On Saturday, June 25, 2011, there was a ribbon cutting ceremony, and Open House commemorating the site installation of an aquaponic-bioponic sustainable farming ecosystem. The event was held at the Bush Mountain Outdoor Activity Center (OAC) in Atlanta’s West End neighborhood.
An aquaponic-bioponic sustainable farming eco-system is a system that grows plants and fish. This is done without soil or fertilizer.
There are other systems that are similar, such as hydroponics, but this system is different because it also supplies fish food. This system would allow a family to grow their own plants, without soil, and raise their own fish, in one small system.
According to David Epstein, an Atlantan who implemented the system in his home and expanded it over time, this is a one-of-a-kind system. The system is now on display at the OAC.
Students from all over the country will be able to visit and learn about the aquaponic-bioponic system.
On display are two separate examples of bioponica systems, which are side by side and are nearly identical. Each system is made up of two giant glass tanks, which are placed a few feet on top of each other.
The tank on the bottom is filled with tilapia and other fish. The glass tank on top is filled with tiny fish, rocks, plants, and water, in separate trays. Each tank has a series of trays with various plants growing out of rocks and various fish growing in them. The plants grow on rocks, without soil or fertilizer. The top tank grows fish food–which develops out of decomposed kudzu or other plant materials–which is fed to the fish in the lower glass tank.
Water for the system can be city water, which the system will self-clean, or water can be obtained by rain harvesting. The system on display uses both city water and rain water.
Present at the event were City of Atlanta Parks Commissioner George Dusenberry, Park Facilitator Darryl Haddock from the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, City Councilwoman Cleta Winslow (District 4), and a group of international high school and college students visiting Atlanta for a conference, titled Modeling Kyoto.
JD Sawyer, Owner of Colorado Aquaponics, designs a similar system, and said “these systems are very beneficial, and they require no fertilizer, and have no chemicals. No soil is needed, which is very important in the prevention of soil borne diseases. This system allows us to grow both produce and protein in one system.”
Sawyer outlines other benefits, saying “farming fish greatly reduces the risk of fish contamination and species depletion. There is a greater crop yield, the system works in droughts, and has no waste production.”
Although the system they design is similar to Epstein’s system, Epstein’s goes one step further, and supplies the food for the fish.
Epstein and Kenneth Lovell, a business partner, talked to the students and guests, educating them on sustainable farming, and how grass clippings and worm castings can also be recycled into fertilizer and fishfood through a biological process integrated into the Bioponica garden.
“Bioponic farming is an entirely new concept in gardening that is arguably the future of farming… as fuel, fish food, and fertilizer prices rise around the world, the profitability of farms decreases, and food production becomes limited to industrial farms,” Epstein said.
“The Bio-garden and Incubator are two integrated systems that function as one, producing fish food and plant fertility to support the entire operation in a sustainable fashion,” Epstein and Lovell said in a joint statement.
“Feeding fish meal to fish is an unsustainable practice that also causes build-up of [toxins]… Feeding grains to fish, including soy, a common practice in tilapia aquaculture, presents another problem, that being one of genetically modified organisms, GMO’s,” they said.
“Unless there are safeguards on corn, soy, and wheat sources, the genetically engineered foods will end up in everyone’s diet. So far safeguards are not in place and so the best control is to raise our own fish and do so organically,” they said.
Both Epstein and Lovell believe, “Ultimately, the bioponic approach provides a healthier plant, more nutritious and chemical free fish, and in the meantime, is good for the environment. Bioponic farming conserves water, reduces labor, eliminates chemical or effluent discharge, and adds a lot of biodiversity to the farm. The outcome is a healthier, tastier fish and organic, more nutritious fruit or vegetable.”
The system can be built in all different sizes. The larger the system, the more fish and plants can be provided. A small system can be for home use, but larger systems can be made for neighorhoods, or small communities. Additional information can be obtained at bioponica.org.
(END / 2011)