How Can Aquaponics Help DC’s Food Deserts?

By Eleanor Haworth

Eleven percent of Washington, DC is a food desert. A food desert is when there is little access to affordable food in a city. One in seven individuals in the district suffer from poverty; especially in wards 7 and 8. Even with free and reduced lunch in schools and nonprofits working to provide meals, many children and adults do not have food security.

Aquaponics and hydroponics may be able to combat this. With an increase in research and technology, families can grow fruits and vegetables on their rooftops and in their homes without worrying about large land usage and soil management. Aquaponics can be used to gain extra income for communities by selling produce to restaurants and creating small markets for the community. If a supermarket is introduced to the area, community members can work with store owners to supply produce leading to better food access AND jobs.

Pollinator Garden Presentation & Award for IDEA PCS

Last week students from the IDEA Public Charter School Garden Club presented the plan to turn a school parking lot into a pollinator garden. The pollinator garden will prevent city water from flowing into the Anacostia River. William explained that the students want to be able to swim by Kingman Island on the River, but currently the water isn’t clean enough.

Chris explained how a pollinator garden improves the watershed by spreading more plants in the neighborhood that serve as a filter to dirty street water flowing into the river.

Local DC coyote fur!

Jared, Chris and William won $400 for their presentation!

We told the bus driver to head straight to the casino with our big ol’ check!

DC Candidates Food Forum

Local DC food advocates are holding a Candidates Food Forum next week on Wednesday May 15th to hear from DC Council At Large Candidates on food policy issues.

The forum is sold out, and has a waitlist so the DC Food Policy Council will be hosting a watch party for the livestream of the event. Bring a snack for yourself, or to share for a potluck, and join us to watch the forum!

Wednesday, May 15th, 6:30 to 8:30pm
1100 4th Street SW, Washington, DC 20024
Room 200

About Forum
The Candidates’ Food Forum will bring together candidates for city-wide Council seats to share their ideas and positions on DC food system issues. Candidates will answer questions about food justice and health equity; school food and nutrition; urban agriculture; economic development and more.

System Improvements at IDEA Charter School

James and William are retro-fitting an existing aquaponic system to improve water flow in the media bed. Without the extended pipes, one side of the bed would not have adequate water circulation. This could lead to poor water conditions.

In the background we see a hydroponic media bed already growing large amounts of basil and tomatoes. This is because we are still far from an adequate stock of fish to produce enough waste/fertilizer in the aquaponic system, whereas in hydroponics the appropriate nutrients can be dosed immediately.

In the hydroponic system, James’ and William’s improved water circulation is not as important because there is not nearly as much organic material to risk foul conditions. It’s important to understand the trade-offs between aquaponics, hydroponics, traditional soil agriculture, and other growing methods.

For IDEA Public Charter School, the aquaponic system is an invaluable STEM education tool to teach students about the ecosystem of fish, plants and bacteria. But it is important to note that depending on circumstances, aquaponics is not the answer for every growing situation.