Ground breaking aquaponics solar greenhouse opens in Penallt

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press release 2 July 2014

Kate Humble opened Britain’s first Aquaponics Solar Greenhouse at Humble by Nature, in the tiny village of Penallt, Monmouthshire, yesterday 1st July.

Aquaponics is a marriage between aquaculture (the growing of fish) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil in nutrient--‐rich water.) Nutrient-rich ‘waste’ water from the fish is pumped through the hydroponics system, feeding the plants, which in turn clean the water that is then returned to the fish tanks.

It is housed in what Aquaponics UK call a ‘passive solar greenhouse’. Once up and running this entrepreneurial and ground--‐breaking system will produce in the region of 250 kg of fish a year and about 30 kg of vegetables a week.

The system, which is the first of its kind in the UK, is the brainchild of scientists Charlie Price and Becky Bainbridge of social enterprise Aquaponics UK. The Project is being delivered in partnership with the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (FCFCG) as part of their Tyfu Pobl (Growing people) programme funded by the Welsh Government.

Kate Humble, of Humble by Nature, said: “This is a hugely exciting innovation; a truly practical approach to the challenges of producing food in a sustainable, low-cost, low-maintenance way. What excites me most is that if we can demonstrate that this system works, and works well, it could be applied in so many contexts – communities, schools, prisons. Food banks could become a thing of the past.”

Charlie Price of Aquaponics UK said: “This is a smallholder scale version of our commercial aquaponics solar greenhouse, it is designed to be low-tech and low-cost in order to be accessible not just to farmers wishing to diversify but to communities, schools, families and more. By combining such an energy efficient building with a space, nutrient, and water efficient growing system we can grow all year round, even in colder climes, and produce a wide variety of healthy outputs with minimal inputs. By working with two such fantastic organisations, Humble by Nature and FCFCG, we hope to bring aquaponics and sustainable integrated farming to the masses and improve our food security from grassroots up.”

Emma Williams, FCFCG’s Wales Development Manager said: “We have seen a growing interest in Aquaponics over the last few years. This is a great opportunity to share expertise and knowledge on Aquaponics with communities in Wales and explore whether it can provide a genuine solution to food security in Wales.”