Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sweet Water Organics - Aquaculture

I like to share organizations that are working towards the same goals of self-sustainability and Sweet Water Organics is exactly that. This past Sunday I went through a tour of their facility in Bay View with nearly twenty other individuals. Our tour guide was Nick who has worked for Sweet Water for the past two and a half years. He was passionate, well-spoken and very knowledgeable. Sweet Water's goal is to educate community members on how to create their own aquaponic system to grow their own vegetables. The system basically uses the waste from fish to entirely feed a floating garden of vegetables. The plants are placed in foam boards that float in the water and put in as plugs so that their root systems are in the water. The water comes directly from a tank that holds fish and the waste from the fish feeds the plants. The plants never see soil yet grow beautifully in that environment and in fact seem to have more nutrients then their soil grown counterparts as shown  by early studies.

Sweet Water sells their fresh produce. I brought home some sunflower sprouts that were huge and absolutely delicious!  They are moving from an indoor facility to an outdoor facility in the next few months which should allow them to expand their production and be even more efficient in their energy use by using gravity to feed the vegetable systems rather than pumps. It is a science to get the balance between fish and produce but Sweet Water will be on the edge of that science and be a leader in the coming decades.

What I love about Sweet Water is that they want to share this science with everyone and demonstrate that these systems are easily recreated by homeowners. This will fit in well with the current permaculture project that I have going on at home. In fact they have partnered with the Victory Garden Initiative that I have written about earlier that has the mission of encouraging home owners to grow their own food through a program they call the permaculture blitz. If you are looking to grow your own food to become more self-reliant I highly encourage learning more about Sweet Water and the Victory Garden Initiative.

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