Ep. 42 Aquaponics

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Tomato young plants grow in aquaponics system combining fish aquaculture with hydroponics, cultivating plants in water under artificial lighting.

In this episode of Mother Earth News and Friends podcast, Charlotte French and her co-host Christianna Pope  meet with Dre Taylor, of Nile Valley Aquaponics. They discuss the difference between aquaponics and hydroponics, how he got started, and what this farming style has done for Dre and the community.

Thank you to Root Farm for sponsoring this episode!

Dre Taylor has been urban farming and aquaponic farming for over 10 years in Kansas City, Mo.

Dre is the founding member of the mentorship Males to Men. Males to Men was established in 2013. Males to Men Mission is to raise strong, conscious, productive young men and re-establish accountable, responsible leadership in the community. There are more than 30 young men currently in the program, ranging in ages 7-17. Since starting in 2013 Males to Men has created partnerships with the University of Lincoln Missouri, Pinnacle Career Institute and the Black Pilot Association

Dre Taylor is also the founder of The KC Urban Farm Coop where they will plant 200 fruit trees in the Swope Park, one of the largest parks in the country where millions of visitors visit each year.

Christianna Pope is a former editor for Mother Earth News. She is an urban gardener with an interest in sustainable farming and food as medicine. Christianna is native to Kansas and likes to spend her free time hiking its rolling hills.

 Our Tour of Nile Valley Aquaponics

 Walking in from the street we were welcomed by the vining plants and warm conversation between neighbors, casually enjoying the beautiful weather together. Dre Taylor has successfully created a community on what once merely a neighborhood. People come and go picking vegetables, observing the goats and trading small-talk. As we entered the grounds, we found a farm stand on the inside. The goats eagerly ran up to meet us expecting handouts, they are, after all, neighborhood celebrities.

Locals have the option of picking from the garden beds along the sidewalk or coming in and paying for the aquaponic grown vegetables inside. Dre mentions that this is one of the many ways Nile Valley gives to its community. As you read above, he also hosts mentorship programs and hires people from his community.  He graciously agreed to give us a tour before we sat down to record.

The five tiers of Dre’s aquaponics systems contain seedlings, plants, a level dedicated to soldier fly larvae, and of course the tilapia.  As the water pumps through the levels, it is mechanically filtered.  The soldier fly larvae are transferred into an area similar to a tent where they complete their lifecycle. They are then fed back to the fish.

The smell was surprisingly fresh. When the ecosystem is in balance, space is clean as can be and almost entirely self-sufficient.

Here are Dre’s plans for Nile Valley’s future. As he continues to build his business model we hope to see many more urban farms following his model.  If you are in the Kansas City area, stop by and visit Nile Valley.  They are growing by leaps and bounds and appreciate your friendship and support.

Additional Resources

Nile Valley Aquaponics 

Nile Valley Aquaponics Facebook

Aquaponic Fish Facts

DIY Rain Barrel Aquaponics System

Tour a Hydroponic Farm

 Our Podcast Team:
Carla Tilghman and Jessica Mitchell
Charlotte French

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