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
Henderson County High received a $10,000 grant from the America’s Grow Rural Education Program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, which they used to build an aquaponics system in their greenhouse.
Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. It is a closed-loop system where fish produce waste which is converted into plant fertilizer by bacteria which the plants being grown hydroponically use for growth, thus filtering the water for the fish.
At Henderson County High, the students are responsible for taking care of the plants and fish in the aquaponics system. Many of the students prefer taking care of the aquaponics system to other work in the greenhouse. A student at HCHS, Tra Duckworth, said in regard to maintaining the aquaponics system that “it’s better than putting plants in dirt.”
The aquaponics system in the HCHS greenhouse currently has 60 tilapia babies in the fish tank. Henderson County High plans to harvest these fish once they reach maturity, about 1 foot in length, to serve alongside the lettuce grown in the system at a Farm to Table event. Through this event they hope to advocate for aquaponics agriculture.
In addition to the aquaponics system, HCHS has a hydroponic system in their greenhouse. Hydroponic systems operate very similarly to aquaponics systems. The only difference between the two is processes is the source of fertilizer. Hydroponics systems use a liquefied solution of inorganic elements to fertilize the plants compared to using fish waste.
EcoLife – Eco-Cycle Aquaponics Kit & Aquaponics Education
What differentiates ECOLIFE’s ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Kit from similar products is the educational curriculum that is paired with the system to create an integrated aquaponics teaching kit that is perfect for schools K-12.
Executive director William Toone founded ECOLIFE Conservation, an organization dedicated to a world in which humans and nature live harmoniously. Established in 2003, ECOLIFE was created to help fill this important gap by using conservation as a tool—not only to protect our remarkable natural world—but also to protect and improve human lives.
ECOLIFE provides aquaponics education for schools with a combination of their aquaponics systems and accompanied curriculum. Their educational programs include a K-12 STEM curriculum that aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards. ECOLIFE has provided their aquaponics systems to over 500 classrooms making them a leader in aquaponics education.
ECOLIFE provides teachers two options when choosing an aquaponics systems. The first option is the ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Education Program, which includes a ‘plug and play’ aquarium conversion aquaponics kit with an accompanied educational curriculum perfect for teachers who want an engaging in-class experience. The ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Kit, a ‘plug and grow’ system, converts a standard Tetra 20 gallon glass aquarium (other aquariums with the same dimensions are compatible) into an indoor garden that enables the user to grow organic produce or ornamental plants in their home.
The second option teachers can choose offers a more complex and involved experience for students. Teachers can apply for the ECO-Garden Program, which allows their students the opportunity to design, engineer, budget and build an outdoor aquaponics system.