Monday, July 28, 2014

Aquaponics (Part 3): Creating a Living Food Bank in Northwest Haiti

Rebecca Nelson and John Pade are well known as the authority on aquaponics in the United States. So much so the URL for their Web site is simply  Before I tell you more about the Nelson & Pade operations, I want to highlight a great project they developed in Haiti to provide both protein and  greens via a partnership with Northwest Haiti Christian Mission (NWHCM), The aquaponics system is housed in a tropical greenhouse at the NWHCM campus in the community of St. Louis du Nord (about 58 kilometers or 36 miles west of Cape Haitien). The aquaponics portion of the farm at St. Louis du Nord, which  produces  tilapia and a variety of vegetables, is managed by Stephen Jernigan. (The vimeo below was uploaded in May 2014)

Aquaponics from NWHCM on Vimeo.

While the NWHCM operating provides food for a small section of northwestern Haiti, Nelson and Pade are hoping to help introduce aquaponics to many areas of the island. "The Living Food Bank® produces a high volume of fresh food in a small space, using minimal resources," Nelson & Pade said in an article in their Web site. "This reduces the reliance on imported food rations for feeding programs in developing countries while providing higher quality, more nutritional food."

And there are possibilities beyond Haiti. "The Living Food Bank® was designed for missions and social projects in developing countries, urban areas and other places that traditional agriculture doesn't work or access to fresh food isn't available," said Nelson & Pade.

Nelson & Pade Provides Great Resources & Training
If you have a chance to peruse through the Nelson & Pade Inc. site, you can find all sorts of training opportunities, links to the Aquaponics Journal, a blog, all sorts of training videos and live seminars and classes at their facilities in Montello, WI.

Rebecca Nelson leads a workshop
As of 2011, more than 1,000 individuals from around the world had participated in  Nelson and Pade’s aquaponics workshops. “They are attended by everyone from school teachers to hobbyists, as well as individuals interested in commercial operations or backyard aquaponics for home food production,” said Nelson,

While this effort to combine aquaculture and  hydroponics to create gardens might seem new to most of us, Nelson and Pade have been practicing and perfecting aquaponics since the early 1990s. But the practice goes back at least a century-and-a-half to China, Thailand and Peru.

"Modern aquaponics recycles water, a precious resource. Fish give off carbon dioxide (CO2) as they breathe. Plants take in CO2, strip the carbon to build their leaves and then release the remaining oxygen molecules. The oxygen-rich air is filtered and then blown into the water for the fish to recycle. In this symbiotic mini eco-system, wastes in one facet of the system are utilized as a resource in another," said the online news site Natural Awakenings.

 “Aquaponics is the ideal answer to a fish farmer’s problem of disposing of nutrient-rich water and a hydroponic grower’s need for nutrient-rich water,” Nelson said in an interview with Natural Awakenings.

Stay Tuned for Parts 4 of the Series, where we will  examine how the practice of aquaponics has taken root in the inner  cities of Milwaukee and Chicago (Growing Power).

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