Home Aquaponics Kit: helping kids grow herbs from fish poo
By Dave Parrack
November 22, 2012
Many of us have completely lost sight of where the food we eat comes from. As long as the product is sitting on the shelf when we visit the supermarket, we pay little attention to the process that led to it being there. The Home Aquaponics Kit is designed to counter this ignorance by educating children in the process involved in growing and cultivating food using a self-cleaning fish tank and a self-maintaining herb garden.
Aquaponics, a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture, has been around for centuries, but apart from in rice paddies, it's not a farming practice in widespread use today. We've recently seen attempts to bring aquaponics to the masses – like the Fishy Farm – and the Home Aquaponics Kit from Back To The Roots is the latest to take on the challenge.
The Home Aquaponics Kit comprises everything an individual needs to start a self-contained herb garden using aquaponics as the method of propagation, barring the water and the fish. This is a table-top fish tank with a herb garden located on the top, and recipients of the kit get the tank and garden unit, five pots filled with pebbles, a mix of organic seeds, fish food, water conditioners, and an air pump to move the water from the tank to the garden.
The system works thusly: You feed the fish, the fish excretes the food, the water containing the effluent is pumped up to the plants, the plants absorb the nutrients from the effluent, and the water spills back into the tank. This process will repeat constantly and consistently all the while the fish is being fed. The tank is kept clean, the plants are kept fed, and the process of waste being upcycled into edible food is revealed. While herbs are the ideal plants to be grown using the Home Aquaponics Kit, leafy vegetables or flowers can also be planted in the pots of pebbles.
Back To the Roots is a company founded in 2009 by Alejandro Velez & Nikhil Arora while they were students at UC Berkeley. After being inspired by a class lecture about using waste products as the basis for growing food, the pair created the Grow-Your-Own Mushroom Garden, which allows gourmet mushrooms to be grown from recycled coffee grounds. While the start-up costs for that product were minimal, the Home Aquaponics Kit required more funding, hence the company has launched a Kickstarter campaign.
Pledges start at US$1 but to get a full Home Aquaponics Kit requires a pledge of $50 or more. The product is expected to eventually retail for around $70. At the time of writing the campaign has raised $77,000 of the $100,000 needed, with pledges being taken until Dec. 15. The video below shows the founders of the company setting out their vision for the product.