12:43pm Thursday 3rd July 2014
BRITAIN’S first aquaponics solar greenhouse has been opened at TV presenter Kate Humble’s Monmouthshire farm.
The greenhouse at Humble by Nature in Penallt was opened on Monday(July 1) and aims to produce vegetables and fish in a low-cost way.
Aquaponics brings together aquaculture, which is the growing of fish, with hydroponics, the growing of plants without soil in nutrient-rich water.
The water from the fish is then pumped through the plant system which in turn cleans the water so it can be returned to the fish tanks.
Once up and running the ground-breaking system, which is a first of its kind in the UK, will produce nearly 250kg of fish a year and 30kg of vegetables a week.
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.
The system is the brainchild of scientists Charlie Price and Becky Bainbridge of social enterprise Aquaponics UK.
Ms 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. Foodbanks 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 climates and produce a wide variety of health outputs with minimal inputs.”
Humble by Nature, based on a working farm in Monmouthshire, was launched by Ms Humble and her husband, Ludo Graham. It runs courses in food, rural skills and animal husbandry.
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