The idea behind this project is that I will be using an aquaponics system as well as raising hens and insects to create a self sufficient feeding system for my family and neighbours. This is a basic principle that will allow me to grow my own organic food without having to buy much feed for the livestock. After the first year I plan for my only outgoings to be on bedding and medicine for the livestock.
The scale of this project depends entirely on the amount of funding I receive so any donations will be much appreciated.
What is an Aquaponics System?
An aquaponics system is a combination of aquaculture (raising fresh water fish for food) and hydroponics (growing plants in water). Both of these are very effective ways of farming and generate a high output of food however they both have their drawbacks. In aquaculture water has to be filtered and cleaned reguarly due to the contamination of fish poop. Hydropnics on the other hand requires an external source of nutrients as it is not grown in soil it is unable to get the nutrients it needs to grow.
An aquaponics system on the other hand combines the two methods together. The plants roots will clean the water the fish contaminate with their poop and then absorb the nutrients from the poop. This is possibly the most effective way of growing food as it produces a lot of food with the space given, is cheap to run and organic.
The fish I will be raising for the first few years will be tilapia as these are hardy fish and produce a lot of meat. I may consider adding different species in later years. I plan to spend between £500 and £1500 on an aquaponics system. Depending on the size of my aquaponics system I will be getting between 50 and 100 tilapia at a price of £1 per fish. As well as buying the plants while they are seedlings which will be another £30 to £80 depending on the plants I get. If the budget allows I shall also get a few bottom feeder fish such as catfish that will help to keep the tank clean.
The insects I plan to keep are beetles, cockroaches and earthworms. These will be the main food source for both the fish and the hens as they are high in protein, iron and zinc. The rest of the food I would like to eventually come from the aquaponics system. The insects will eat any scraps of food and any other rotting vegetation produced by the aquaponics system. I plan to spend between £50 and £150 on this part of the projects. Insects are very low maintanence and low cost so I will only need to pay out for their boxes to stay in as well as the insects themselves.
Finally I plan to get 6 hens, only for their eggs not their meat! These will not contribute to the self sufficient cycle like the insects and aquaponics system do; however the poop in their pens will be used as compost to feed the insects. I would like to build the coop myself and plan to build one big enough for 12 hens incase I get more. I have just recently aquired a chicken coop that holds 3 hens and am planning on on converting the old wendy house in the garden to another coop which I worked out to hold another 8 hens. I only plan to get 6 so far and intend to adopt ex-battery hens.
I will also have another £100 for miscellaneous items such as food for the first 6 months as the insects will not be grown nor the aquaponics plants therefore will need an external source of food.
I hope you can see how this project will work and as far as im aware this has never been done before so I am very excited to see how it turns out. This sounds like a lot of food to be grown and it is. I come from a large family and therefore this project will help us out a lot. The initial start up is the most vital part of the project as more funding will determine the scale of the entire project and with a good running start I hope to expand and be able to become self employed and sell my food locally. I have set the fudning financials at £500 which is enough to get the smallest aquaponics system but will still be a massive help to me.
Thank you very much for reading and please give generously.