Community Supported Aquaponics Takes Off in the UK
From Will Allen's Growing Power to a community project giving free food to the homeless, we've seen plenty of community-minded applications of aquaponics—a variation on hydroponics that farms fish and plants together in a symbiotic relationship.
Now the BBC reports that the trend has hit the UK, with a community group in Bristol creating an "urban fish allotment":
A community-led "fish allotment" scheme to farm fresh fish and vegetables in the city is being trialled in Bristol. The aquaponic farm, a variant of the water-frugal plant-growing technique hydroponics, has been set up by the Bristol Fish Project in Bedminster. Volunteers are being offered free or "cost price" fish and green vegetables in exchange for working on the project. Alice-Marie Archer, project founder, said the five month trial is to "find out if an urban fish farm is viable".
Looking at the Bristol Fish Project's website, they seem to be exploring a number of innovative techniques for more sustainable fish and vegetable production—from utilizing algae to balance the nutrients in the system to breeding black soldier fly larvae as fish food. But it's the groups well stated explanation of why systems like aquaponics will become increasingly important as our climate becomes less stable that left me most impressed:
The increased control that closed farming systems give us can protect crops from blight, rain damage, frosts, drought. This complex and unpredictable future poses new challenges to agriculture that highlight the importance of developing systems like RAS and aquaponics. Aquaponics permits the farmer to be more efficient with water, to control light-levels, heat, and nutrition, and to protect crops from the elements.
Nonetheless, it is deeply troubling that we are screwing up our natural systems so badly that we have to resort to developing ‘bubbles’ of stability in order to ensure our food security.