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E3 Aquaponics

E3 Aquaponics began operations at Pine Ridge Manor in July 2013 with assistance from the Topeka Community Foundation, THA Inc., and its partner organization the Topeka Housing Authority.

Aquaculture tanks provide a habitat for tilapia, a fresh water fish noted for its hardiness and fast growth rate. Each tank is topped by a hydroponic grow bed for lettuce and other produce, illuminated by fluorescent grow lights.

Aquaponics is method of raising fish and vegetables in a way that each promotes the health and growth of the other. Water containing fish droppings and other waste is pumped from each fish tank through a filter where bacteria break down the materials to become plant food. This mix is then piped to the vegetables which take up the plant food – returning cleaned water to the fish tank.

Aquaculture – raising fish or shellfish in a confined pen, tank or pond – has been around for thousands of years beginning in Asia and the Middle East. Today this practice is a major source of our salmon, tuna, catfish, tilapia and shrimp.

Hydroponics – raising plants in water mixed with nutrients and sometimes gravel or pebbles – began in Europe almost 400 years ago.

Aquaponics - combining these two food production methods in a single closed-loop system, has developed over the past forty years in the United States, as a way to efficiently grow fish and food crops together.

Aquaponics uses less water than traditional fish farming and less growing space than most vegetable gardens. By some estimates the water volume for vegetable production can be lowered by as much as 95%, conserving water while using very little growing space — ideal for urban gardening.

Aquaponics is not dependent on the growing season. Vegetables and other crops can be grown year-round, with fresh food available at a lower price and better quality than trucked-in products.

Want to get involved?

E3 Aquaponics will be recruiting youth from the neighborhood to become co-owners in the coming months. Co-owners will share in the responsibility of daily upkeep and the overall success of E3 Aquaponics. On a day-to-day basis the process requires feeding the fish and checking the plants. On a weekly basis the water is tested for temperature, clarity, Ph and the levels of nitrates, nitrites and ammonia. Then comes marketing of the fish and produce.

The experience provides the opportunity to learn skills in preparation for post high school employment or higher education – work ethic, courtesy, self-discipline, self-confidence and the ability to recognize what is expected in a work situation in the areas of dress, personal grooming, hygiene, body language, tone of voice, vocabulary and business language.

E3 is seeking business and individual sponsors for the E3 habitats and the E3 academic program to be added in the coming year. All donations are tax-deductible.

Contact Trey George for more information. 785-383-5776