Although known for it’s coffee fincas, this town nestled in the mountains of Honduras isn’t the most hospitable for the average person to be able to provide fresh food for their family. The forest of pine trees and rocky soil along with the concrete jungle of urban life makes likelihood of harvesting crops from your own garden minuscule.
But there are rooftops.
Lots of flat rooftops that often only have a single water tank for the family’s water supply. This leaves plenty of space for a rooftop aquaponic (or hydroponic) system that can, not only provide families a means to grow food for themselves, but do it in an efficient and effective way.
Last July, Do Good Farms based in Orlando came and built a floating raft aquaponic system that utilizes two 250 gallon fish tanks and a 12’ x 4’ pool that has 18” of water (approx. 540 gallons). The system utilizes naturally growing bacteria to convert fish food and ammonia nitrate (fish waste) into nitrites, and then into nitrates, which are food for the plants floating in the pool. The plants then remove those nitrogen molecules which finishes the water filtration process, and the water is then returned to the fish tanks via a pump. The cyclical nature of the system is very self-sustaining.
We have a range of goals in mind as we continue to develop this project. In the short term, the goal for this system is to effectively produce enough vegetables to feed each of the ministry homes weekly. We want this project to be a proof of concept for roof top gardens in urban areas. We hope to make this a viable community outreach by providing the means for people to farm their own produce. Whether through a sponsorship or through a group investment, we want to be able to build systems similar to ours throughout Santa Rosa to alleviate the pressures of potential poverty. This initiative could even be implemented alongside our Family Preservation program that looks to give people the access to resources to prevent family disintegration which lands children in the broken system of crisis care and foster care in the first place.
Whether we are expanding our current system to more effectively offset food costs and therefore ministry costs, or partnering with local families to create the ability to provide for themselves, aquaponics provides a means of sustainability for programs, ministry, and families.
Written by Tyler Harbison, Legacy of Hope’s Director of Sustainability