What is an Aquaponic system?
Freedom Gardens' greenhouse provides fresh, sustainably-grown produce to local students and is a model to demonstrate sustainable food production on a commercial scale. It also serves as a classroom showcasing a fully-functioning aquaponic system.
In an aquaponic system, there two key players: fish and plants. In our system, edible and ornamental species of fish are raised in tanks. The fish produce nutrient-rich wastewater that we extract from the tanks and move through a biological filter; we then supply this nourishing water to our hydroponic gardens - which is a garden where lettuces, herbs, berries, vegetables and flowers can be raised without soil. Our soil-free system, manufactured by Nelson and Pade, uses significantly less water than traditional farming methods and increases the per-acre harvest.
As the fish provide food for the plants, the plants in turn provide clean water back to the fish by filtering out the nutrients. And both work to provide sustainably grown produce (and eventually protein when the fish are ready to harvest!) to our community.
Freedom Gardens has the potential to create a lot of sustainably-grown food, with its 3,200 square-foot greenhouse and 7,500-gallon aquaponic system.
We became fully functioning in fall 2019 when we launched a greenhouse-to-school partnership, which brought greens grown in our aquaponic system into the Frenchtown School District cafeteria.