Aquaponics Expansion and Education

Submitted by: Sharon Hasting of East Texas Aquaponics in the Capacity Building category

Project Overview

Our vision At East Texas Aquaponics, we are maniacally focused on three transformative goals: --Grow: Sustainably cultivate and distribute the most nutritious produce possible --Educate: Teach and empower our community to grow safe, healthy food --Serve: Help relieve food insecurity for community members in need Because each of these goals is linked, improvements in one area lead to progress in the others.

Project Plan / Strategy

Our ask Help us expand to fully utilize our existing greenhouse space with additional growing capacity and a dedicated instructional area. With these improvements, we can leap forward in our ability to grow, teach, and serve. Our 6600-square-foot greenhouse currently houses deep water culture and media beds that can grow a maximum of 1300 living lettuces and herbs weekly. The proposed expansion represents an additional 2000 square feet of growing space that supports a total weekly capacity of 3000 living lettuces and herbs, plus other potential produce such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. Further, increased growing capacity improves our ability to provide nutritious, fresh food to those in need. East Texas Aquaponics commits to donating at least 10% of the produce we grow to those without consistent access to healthy food. We maintain partnerships with Grow North Texas and the East Texas Food Bank system, and provide freshly harvested produce to their outlets each week. A dedicated small-scale demonstration system would allow us to host classes and hands-on workshops for community members and area students without potentially compromising food safety and the integrity of greenhouse growing and harvesting areas.

Project Budget

The overall plan progresses in several phases, over a total of 8 weeks and for a total cost of $10,242.00. Week: 1-3 Task: Install 200 square feet of media beds Materials cost: $2,974.00 Week: 4 Task: Install and plumb 2300 gallon fish tank and induction filter Materials cost: $1445.00 (fish tank), $705.00 (induction filter), $552.00 (plumbing) Week: 4-7 Task: Install 112’x16’ deep water culture (DWC) Materials cost: $1321.00 Week: 8 Task: Build demonstration system Materials cost: $1245.00 Labor (all phases): $2000

Operation History

Established in 2016, East Texas Aquaponics is proud to serve communities and markets in northeast Texas. To reduce food miles, we offer fresh produce to farmers’ markets, restaurants, and communities exclusively within our home farm’s locality. Our systems continuously improve fertility and environmental diversity. We do not use pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or herbicides. We feed our fish a sustainably produced, USDA-certified organic food designed especially for aquaponics. We offer aquaponics system tours and classes, as well as support the next generation of farmers through internships. In our first quarter of production, we have supplied fresh, nutritious produce to four farmers' markets, area restaurants, and food assistance programs (Grow North Texas, Winnsboro Community Resource Center, and Kindness Cottage). We have initiated our education program with our first Introduction to Aquaponics class and tour. We also have successfully trained and graduated our first aquaponics intern. We are ready to increase our capacity to meet our commitments, and are grateful for this partnership opportunity. Thank you! Richard and Sharon Hasting

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