ECOLIFE shares food produced from this system with local schools and assisted care facilities. Because aquaponics is an ideal forum for illustrating real life science concepts we have developed educational materials and make our systems available to schools., zoos, museums and other public venues. Some of these concepts include: the nitrogen cycle, the role of bacteria in ecology, water ecology, living systems, life cycles, the science of food production, and hydrodynamics. ECOLIFE is currently collaborating with the University of California, San Diego Department of Mechanical Engineering on a project in aquaponics design efficiency. Specifically the students will be studying how to move water with the least amount of energy and fine tune the function of the bell siphon, a key component of the ebb and flow function used in many of these systems.
ECOLIFE would like to offer individuals in assisted care facilities an opportunity to garden without the physical challenges of the conventional garden. One advantage of aquaponics is that the plants are grown in a soil-less medium and the growing trays are adjustable, easily accommodating people who may not be able to bend down. The fish are traditionally farmed for food, but they may also be kept as pets.
ECOLIFE, in collaboration with Limbe Wildlife Centre, proposes a program to build and teach about community-based aquaponics in Uganda to reduce critical bushmeat issues that are devastating forest habitats and the apes that depend on them. This program will 1) provide an aquaponics model at Limbe Wildlife Centre, 2) teach Ugandan villagers about aquaponics as an alternative sustainable protein source to bush meat, and 3) provide a means for Ugandan families to supplement their income with the selling of fish and produce from aquaponics at local village markets.
Aquaponics will improve the Ugandan's quality of life by providing a sustainable food source, reducing water use for fish farming and vegetable production, increasing family income and reducing bushmeat consumption.
The bush meat trade plagues Uganda’s critically endangered Cross River gorillas, chimpanzees, forest elephants, and other imperiled species. Many rural communities in Uganda hunt bushmeat, both to eat and to sell for a living. As populations continue to grow in cities as well as in forest logging concessions and mining camps, demand for wild meat rises. Aquaponics provides an animal protein alternative that is sustainable and will reduce the pressure on gorillas and other native wildlife of Uganda.
Large-scale commercial aquaponics are extensively underway in the United States. ECOLIFE continues to encourage further development. The current beleaguered state of the oceans mirrors the bushmeat crisis: current levels of commercial fishing are not sustainable. Aquaponics could provide an alternative food source to our dwindling ocean fisheries.
A Key to Global Food Demands
Aquaponics is the symbiotic cultivation of plants and aquatic animals in a recirculating environment. ECOLIFE has installed an aquaponics system at our San Diego office with the specific goals of preparing a manual and techniques for managing an aquaponics system, teaching aquaponic workshops to the San Diego community as a sustainable living solution, and developing a system for use abroad that will provide an alternative food source for communities in Bwindi, Uganda.
Water is cycled between the fish tanks and vegetable growing areas, and fish waste acts as a natural fertilizer for the crops. With near zero environmental impact, these systems can be used to produce high-quality hormone free fish and a wide variety of organic vegetables, all without the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. They are efficient and water-wise, using 90% less water than conventional vegetable gardens. Following a few basic design tenets, these versatile systems may be constructed to fit any usable indoor or outdoor space, using a variety of commonly available materials. This adds up to a very accessible method of local food production and one that addresses many pressing social and environmental issues.
With increasing global food demands, the strain on natural resources and scarcity of clean drinking water, aquaponics can be part of the solution. There is a growing awareness that it makes sense to know how our food is produced, to buy locally grown food, or to grow your own. Small scale aquaponics systems can be set up almost anywhere to provide fish and vegetables for consumption, reducing the need to import these items from other parts of the world. Most aquaponics systems require very little energy to run and can be solar powered, which could greatly reduce fuel consumption and the overall carbon footprint of a community.
Community Aquaponics Workshop
NEW WORKSHOPS ADDED FOR 2012!
Learn how to save water while growing your own fish and organic leafy greens all in one system. Aquaponics is the symbiotic growing of plants and aquatic animals in a re-circulating environment. Water is cycled between the fish tanks and vegetable growing areas, and fish waste acts as a natural fertilizer for the crops. Use 90% less water than conventional gardening and have fresh organic produce and fish that can be produced in your own home, school or community. In this workshop you will learn how to build your own system through demonstrations and hands on work with a completed system and one to be worked on together in the class. You’ll also learn simple, effective maintenance techniques for managing your own aquaponics system. Lunch is included in the price. Instructed by ECOLIFE staff. Limit 10 per workshop.
Mike Ready writes: A very productive day: We harvested the Swiss chard and delivered it to a local café. This is already the third harvest for the new system. The fish are voracious and putting on weight—exponentially, it seems. Water quality remains good. Nitrates have leveled off. I think we have achieved a balance between plants and fish, and our fish-feeding regimen. Started one plant section on the NFT method. The comparison to the ebb and flow method will be interesting. The new arugula sprouted in only two days! I just have to convince the staff to stop tasting it and let it grow!Donate to ECOLIFE Today!