Aquaponics is a method of growing food which utilizes fish waste to provide nutrients for plants grown hydroponically. Because aquaponics does not require soil for plant growth, it provides an alternative method of growing food in urban environments.
The Growing Experience Vertical Tower Aquaponics System was made possible by a grant from the Los Angeles County Productivity Investment Fund in 2014. Because aquaponics systems can be designed and built for a variety of scenarios, this emerging technology is an important agricultural application for urban settings. The modular system can be configured on roof-tops, parking lots, and other under-utilized spaces in urban environments to increase local production of food.
The Aquaponics System is housed in a climate controlled green house, and is comprised of two 650-gallon fish tanks, 175 vertical grow towers, two sump tanks, a filtration tank, bio-filter, and a system of pumps and plumbing. Because the system is contained in a temperature and light regulated greenhouse, and it's water is recirculated and recycled, 75% less water is used in comparison to in-ground growing. With a vertical system configuration, produce yields are approximately four-times the amount in the same square footage. The increased production from this system has allowed The Growing Experience to provide fresh salad greens to the Long Beach City College food court as well as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscribers and Farm Stand customers.
Additional funding provided by The Boeing Company broadens the scope of the system from being solely for production, and opens the door to hands-on learning and skills training for youth and young-adults.