Patrick Durkin has been working for the past year and a half to convert a former Manorville commercial fish farm into an aquaponics operation that symbiotically grows plants and fish.
Aquaponics is a step toward decentralizing the agriculture industry, Durkin said, which allows food to be grown close to the market where they will ultimately be sold.
Here is the definition of Aquaponics pulled from howstuffworks.com:
“Aquaponics is a system for farming fish and plants together in a mutually beneficial cycle. Fish produce wastes that turn into nitrates and ammonia. These aren’t good for the fish if they build up too much, but they’re great fertilizer for plants. As the plants suck up these nutrients, they purify the water, which benefits the fish. Many cultures have made use of this cycle to grow better crops and nurture the fish as an additional food source. Rice paddies in Chain and Thailand have used aquaponics techniques for years… Modern aquaponics ;is slightly more high-tech, but it’s still an efficient and environmentally friendly way to produce food. Fish are kept in large tanks and the plants are grown hydroponically; that is, without soil.”
Durkin is currently selling freshly picked watercress, mint and coriander. He is almost ready to harvest and bring to market rosemary.
Durkin is from Manorville and is adamant that aquaponics is the future of urban farming.
Durkin holds a full-time job working for Green Forward Landscaping in Bayport. At the same time he manages the aquaponics farm with some help from family and friends.
Initially, Durkin “used heaters the first year, and tried to grow basil and tomatoes during the winter, and it was pretty expensive,” which is why he now uses passive solar to heat the water in the eight, 5,000 gallon fish tanks to maintain a temperature of 50 degrees. He says that his initial approach “wasn’t working, so I switched to climate-appropriate greens and passive solar. Right now we’re just starting to break even.”
For more information on Durkin’s aquaponics farm, visit folaquaponics.org
For the original news article, visit http://www.newsday.com/long-island/aquaponics-an-operation-that-farms-with-fish-and-plants-but-no-soil-1.13344756