Why did Solutions for Change build Solutions Farms?

The Solutions for Change model that is solving family homelessness is innovative – and unique!  Aquaponics is innovative and unique too.  Solutions for Change is an organization that provides an opportunity for homeless families to regain their financial viability, their place in the community, their security and their happiness.  The farm provides a place that teaches work force skills, the opportunity to be purposeful and structure.  We are growing more than produce – we are growing hope.  See more at www.SolutionsforChange.org.

Can I grow the plants and have the fish in the same tank?

You can, but it is not recommended.  Tilapia are omnivores and will eat the roots of your plants.

Why does aquaponics use so much less water?

Aquaponics uses so much less water because it is recirculated and all water tanks are covered in the Solutions Farms system.  The water used is through transpiration and because we cover all water tanks and beds very little is lost to evaporation.  By growing in beds and not in soil no water is lost by draining into the ground.

If you don’t use soil what do you use to grow with?

Solutions Farms uses coir and worm castings.  Coir is a natural fiber extracted from the husk of coconuts. At first glance it appears that we use soil but don’t be fooled!

Does Solutions Farms use pesticides?

Solutions Farms uses no pesticides.  We use only products that are OMRI listed or Organically Certified.  You can be assured that the produce and herbs we grow are safe to consume.  As an aquaponics farm we have an even higher standard to adhere to because we must make sure that whatever we use is safe for the fish too!  We are, in that sense, ultra-organic

Can I do this outdoors?

Yes you can grow aquaponically outdoors – but doing so has its limits.  Solutions Farms grows inside a greenhouse that affords us the ability to control the temperatures and pest populations that are a part of farming.  If you grow outdoors you will be limited to time of year you can grow and be more susceptible to pest and rodent invasion.

What kind of fish are used and why?

Solutions Farms raises tilapia to power the growth of the produce and herbs.  Any fresh water fish can be used but first make sure the fish you choose are legal to raise in your area.  Tilapia is the fish of choice in aquaponics primarily because they are so hardy and fast growing.  They can tolerate water conditions that other fish are unable to.  Keep in mind that for tilapia to flourish they need warm water.  It can be quite a balance between the temperatures needed for the fish and the temperatures needed for the plants.

Is aquaponics difficult to understand?

On a residential level aquaponics can be understood and done relatively easily.  The commercial farm we have here at Solutions is more complex.  We learn everyday as new challenges develop and the weather fluctuates. To say we are pioneering is an understatement!

Why aren’t more people growing this way?

We ask ourselves the same question!  The knowledge base in this method of growing is increasing daily.  The internet has helped spread the good word about aquaponics but nothing substitutes for just giving it a try yourself.  We are developing a residential education and training program here at Solutions Farms.  Keep your eyes open for updates about our training.

What is the aquaponics cycle?

Need graphic – coming soon!

What is aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a sustainable, green method of growing produce and herbs.  Fish culture is used to nourish the plants which in turn purifies the water so it can be returned to the fish in a healthy condition.  All the water is recirculated resulting in a highly water-efficient way to grow.  This is really a combination of hydroponic growing (without synthetic nutrients or fertilizers) and fish culture.

What does aquaponics and Solutions for Change have in common?

Solutions for Change is all about healthy living and sustainability – and so is aquaponics!

What filters the fish water?

The best filter in an aquaponics system is the plant roots – the plants take what is toxic to the fish and use that to grow from.  Other filtration is needed and be quite simple in a backyard system.

What are the advantages of growing aquaponically?

There are many advantages of growing aquaponically.  Among the advantages are:

  • Water resource preservation – we use 95-97% less water than traditional soil growers.  In 2012 that equated to almost 650,000 gallons saved in just five months.  In 2013 it is estimated to be 1,500,000 gallons!
  • No weeds!  Weeds are nonexistent and this saves back breaking work and time to grow wonderful food.
  • Protein food source – raising fish while growing food supplies you with both protein and healthy produce and herbs.
  • Carbon footprint – growing closer to the point of consumption is kind to the earth.  Why buy produce and herbs that are shipped when you can grow right in your backyard?
  • Food Safety – you know where your food is coming from every step of the way.  Solutions Farms uses organically certified seed and follows all regulations that has earned us the USDA Organic Certification.
  • Space saving – the density that plants can be grown in aquaponics is higher than in traditional soil farming.
  • Faster – we grow 20-30% faster than traditional soil farming.