Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.
When it comes to solution based ideas about self sufficiency and what each of us can do in our own back yards, the closed loop system is high on the list. With grocery stores making it effortless to get unseasonal produce and convenience foods lined up throughout dozens of aisles and stacked on hundreds of shelves, its no wonder why humans have lost their connection with food. Luckily there are many young farmers hoping to change our reliance on overpriced and over-packaged foods loaded with chemical preservatives and artificial ingredients. New farms are popping up all over the world. Innovative food growing methods being put into practice every day. From vertical gardens to rooftop gardens; from aquaponics to aeroponics, young farmers are setting roots in their own communities worldwide, helping to localize food systems and circulate funds back into the local economy.
Aquaponic Farming: A Closed-Loop System
The closed loop system is an idea that I have been intrigued by for many years. The closed loop system has been popularized recently through stories of individuals and families turning their backyard swimming pool into a full functioning aquaponics garden. Green Finned Hippy Farm is changing that in their community in Pocahontas IL. They run an aquaponics farm.
Aquaponics involves utilizing the closed loop system for both fish and food production. The closed loop or closed cycle system is essentially aquaponics which combines hydroponics and aquaculture to achieve both fish as a food source and a free nutrient rich fertilizer siphoned from fish waste solids to feed the plants. There is virtually no waste in this process.
Green Finned Hippy Inc. started in 2010 as a licensed tilapia hatchery in Belleville, Illinois by Josh and Alicia Davis. A few years later, they moved to a 10 acre farm in Pocahontas IL, where they stay on the cusp of new and innovative sustainable farming techniques.
According to Alicia, co-owner, they operate an Aquaponics barn where over 3,800 gallons of water flows to 12 grow beds. The tilapia fish are bred on site and are grown in fresh water tanks. The water in the tanks is pumped into the grow beds, providing natural fertilizer for the plants. The plants are grown in rock grow beds which eliminates the need for dirt or pesticides. Green Finned Hippy Farm also produces over 1,500 pasture raised broilers per season for Nathalie’s Restaurant (owned by Overlook Farms) in St. Louis, MO. Using the Joel Salatin pasture raised poultry method, the broiler chickens live outdoors and are moved to fresh grass everyday using mobile chicken tractors. “Following in line with our All Natural theme, our flock of laying hens also spends their days roaming our pastures. Our fresh eggs cannot be beat with their rich orange yolks and health benefits that surpass any store bought egg! Haven’t heard why pasture raised eggs are the best? Check out this article!”, says Alicia.
Free Tours: Even with all of their projects, they make time to teach the public about what “Naturally Grown” really means. According to Alicia, “It’s our mission to teach people what it means to Put a Face Back on Food! We always welcome people come to our farm to see how we grow everything, and then we recommend they watch food documentaries such as Food Inc. to see what the Industry Standard is for where their supermarket food comes from. It’s an eye opening experience and we encourage everyone to take the challenge of thinking twice about WHERE and HOW their food was produced!”
The Locavore's Diet
One stop shop for simple clean eating. They feel going straight to the farm should not be seen as “inconvenient.” They offer a diverse array of products to supplement the Locavore's diet:
Aquaponic Produce (Basil and Kale – all year round!)
Fresh Ground Peanut Butter
Freshly Baked Breads
Pesticide Free Produce
Fresh Goats Milk
Instruction on How to Pickle Produce
Instruction on How to Build Solar Panels
In their quest to become a sustainable farm, they also added two goats to provide the farm with milk and weed control! Since Aquaponics is how it all started on their farm, they offer consultation services to help others get their own aquaponic systems up and running. Their past consultations include Overlook Farms in Clarksville Mo, and Principia College in Elsah, Ill.
It is young pioneering farmers like Josh and Alicia Davis who are reshaping the future of food in the United Sates. Folks like these surely do inspire others to think differently about their food.