What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics is a sustainable ecosystem using fish, plants, and water to grow vegetables that can be harvested every day, 365 days a year. It does not use soil, pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers. It uses a fraction of the water, energy, land, and labor to produce vegetables and fish of the highest quality.
To start, you have to have baby fish, called fingerlings. We use Tilapia. Tilapia is a hardy, great tasting, fish. They grow quickly and love the climate here. The fingerlings are introduced into the system into their spacious tanks full of WEB drinking water and start to create the environment necessary to cultivate plants.
We use no antibiotics nor hormones to breed and grow our Tilapia.
The fish hang out in their spacious tanks, but the water they live in gets continuously pumped through the entire system and filtered. Those nets you see catch any small fish that decide they really must "get to the other side". The fish are fed high quality food that is free of antibiotics, growth hormones, and pollutants. This turns into outstanding nutrients for our plants!
We use tap water produced by WEB. Thanks to the advent of ‘reversed osmosis’ technique, the production of water on Bonaire has become far more sustainable. Reversed osmosis entails that seawater is pressed through a membrane under high pressure. The membrane filters out all the residues from the water. Next, the water passes through a second membrane. As a result, it becomes extremely pure, with a minimum of residual salts (5-10 mg/l). With reversed osmosis no warm water is discharged into the sea. In addition, the installation requires less space, and its energy consumption is lower.
Once the water has the right balance of nutrients, we can start growing plants! Our plants start out in a nursery like this one. It's designed to grow the seedlings even faster than normal. Once they reach the right size, they are transplanted into the raft beds.You can also grow the seedlings outside the system and transplant them, but we wanted our plants to be in the system from start to finish. This means we can be confident our products are 100% naturally grown (and they really do grow faster).
Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. All our seeds are non-GMO.
The Raft Beds
Our system has two long raft beds. Once the seedlings are big enough, they move into these super cool, food safe rafts. You can see the plants move down the line one raft at a time. Each day a raft is removed from the end of the line and harvested and a new raft with plants from the nursery is started at the beginning. The rafts are cleaned after each harvest and reused until they break down completely.
Our plant rafts are designed specifically for our needs in aquaponic food production. They are non-toxic and do not degrade, making them safe for food contact.
We take the whole raft out and all it takes is a single snip to cut the plant from its roots. All lettuces are harvested daily. Once the vegetable is harvested, we dunk it in ice water. This will rapidly cool and clean the vegetable to slow water loss and suppress enzymatic activity. The vegetable stays perky and succulent. It extends the shelf-life of vegetables by weeks. After resting for 12 hours in our refrigerator, the vegetable is bagged, sealed and labeled. It only takes 18 hours from harvest to delivery.
Organic food, ecological food or biological food are food produced by methods complying with the standards of organic farming. Standards vary worldwide, but organic farming features practices that cycle resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.