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A kitchen garden with a difference

Paper Round specialises in closed-loop recycling, and recently we read about a pioneering new system for growing food. At home, many of us grow herbs on a window sill or in a pot in the garden, but what about above a fish tank? Aquaponics is a unique new approach to growing for the ultimate, closed-loop experience in food production.

To start off with, you need to be an owner of an active fish tank, containing fish. When you feed the fish, they produce waste which is harmful to them but, once micro bacteria used in the Aquaponics technique have converted it, their waste acts as fertilizer for plants, which grow above the tank. The plants take up the nutrients, cleaning the water, which is then returned to the fish, closing the loop. The water never needs to be cleaned manually because it’s cleaned naturally by the plants. Growing plants without soil uses much less water, meaning Aquaponics provides a more environmentally friendly option for food production. Any fish can be used in an Aquaponics system, meaning it’s already being used in some agriculture farms, such as Grow Up urban farms. If you’re a restaurant, why not try sourcing some food from a supplier using an aquaponics system?

Virtually any plants can be grown in an Aquaponics system: from strawberries and tomatoes, to lettuce and spinach so your options are endless. In terms of the type of fish, assuming you don’t want them to go with chips, there’s a huge variety to choose from at your local fish shop. Even better, your plants will be at waist height so there’s no need to be hunched over a flower bed. They’ll be no weeds because there’s no soil and the only animals to come into contact with the plants will be the fish.

To find out more about aquaponics take a look at this Wikipedia article. If you’re interested in acquiring a system of your own, take a look at http://www.aquaponics.org.uk/, or there are lots of YouTube tutorials on how to make them from scratch.

Emily Morrey-McGrath

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