Sustainable Food Systems
The goal of this project is to create a self-sustaining food production system that relies completely on off-grid power, produces large amounts of healthy organic food, and can be replicated affordably throughout the world. Our project is student led, based out of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, and utilizes media beds equipped with drip irrigation in order to provide our plants directly with aquaponic produced nutrient solution.
What are Aquaponics?
An aquaponic system is one that seeks to blend aquaculture (raising aquatic animals) and hydroponics (raising plants in water) in a synergistic way. Waste produced by fish is converted by bacteria to organic fertilizer, and nutrient-rich water is delivered through a series of tanks and pumps the to hydroponic beds. Aquaponics are a sustainable way of growing food that minimizes waste and damage to the ecosystem.
What are some of the fish and plants that are being incorporated into the aquaponics system here at UCSC?
Fish - Tilapia, Koi Fish, Goldfish, Crawfish.
Plants - Okra, Tomato, Basil, Raspberry Sorbet Zinnia, Cheddar Pink Carnation, Snapdragon Chantilly, Hot Pepper, Pruden’s Purple, Cucumber Endeavor, Winter Squash Honey Nut, Summer Squash Golden Glory, Collards Green Flash, Sweet Pepper (Lipstick & Gourmet).
What are some of the other aspects of the aquaponics system?
Wavelength Selective solar panels generate energy and store it in the greenhouse to be used for powering fans, pumps and other devices off-grid. The pink panels have been shown to aide in photosynthetic efficiency on microalgae, which means larger algae cultures for fish to feed on.
Rain Water Harvest
The greenhouse utilizes a 300 gallon rainwater tank and catchment system, which supplies water for the fish tanks and plants. We use a biological control agent inside the water tank by having fish eating any mosquito larva present.
As the project continues to be sustained, different aspects of it can be modified in order to help serve the needs of the Santa Cruz community. Off-the-grid aquaponics are about creating a sustainable way of growing food, and, as such, as the needs of the Santa Cruz area change, the project can change too.
What to help?
GoFund Me Project Name: UCSC Aquaponics Greenhouse Fund
Facebook Page: UCSC Aquaponics
Special thanks to the Carbon Fund, Crowdfunding UCSC, Sue Carter, and the Arboretum for providing us with this opportunity to expand collective knowledge and encourage undergraduate sustainability-based research.