The mission of utilizing Business As Missions (BAM) is as professional as it is relational. The Aquaponics Farm is an excellent example of this relationship. In roughly 18 months, a 1,100 square foot greenhouse was constructed with a foundation 5 feet below the earth’s surface. Pipes were constructed underground to facilitate a geothermal pumping system, which utilizes the constant temperature of the earth to regulate the heating and cooling of the greenhouse. With the shelter built, the systematic development began. A tank, now filled with 540 growing Tilapia, operates as the plant’s nutritional source. The fish are fed, their bodies process the food, and the expelled excess is dispersed as nourishment to the plants. From the tank to the pipes, nutritional fish feces flow from a medi rock-based bed to the main water-based system. One pump generates the water flow, however with 400 gallons/hour gushing through the system, the fish remain safe in a sanitary environment. This powerful large school of fish supplies all of the necessary nutrients for sensational plant growth.
The rock-based beds support the growth of plants such as tomatoes, kale, peppers, and chard (all of which are excellent and full of incredible flavor!). The main system is comprised of Styrofoam floating palettes, which carry the main crop, lettuce, through two different stages. The first stage begins at the plant’s infancy. Once the seeds are 99% germinated, they are grouped into high-density styrofoam containers that contain 14 holes per square foot. After two weeks, the plants are transitioned to slightly less dense pallets that accommodate 7 holes per square foot (holes in this case are akin to planted holes in the ground). The remarkable efficiency of an Aquaponics Farm is its ability to grow 7 plants per square foot, versus traditional farming, which is limited to about one plant per square foot.
While the YWAM Aquaponics Farm is geared towards commercial selling, not all Aquaponics producers must operate on a large-scale model. The success and innovation of Aquaponics development is its versatility to produce commercially and on a noncommercial scale. The Aquaponics operations functioning in Central Asia and Guatemala are examples of community sustaining farms, whose output is comparable to the 1,800 heads of lettuce produced each week from the farm in Colorado Springs. Individuals less inclined or unable to construct a full-scale greenhouse are able to grow produce in their own homes. Instead of using an army of Tilapia, Koi, or Carp as the fish network nourishing the farm, a homeowner may use several Goldfish or a similar, smaller fish.