Bella Vita Farms LLC in Gaithersburg, MD opened a new greenhouse with a state-of-the-art aquaponic system about three months ago.
The farm has had no problem selling their produce at great prices because local chefs recognize the quality. In fact, they cannot keep up with demand and the farm already plans to expand the aquaponic system.
Bella Vita staff noted that not only does aquaponics provide top-notch produce, but it is also much friendlier for the environment because it uses much less water, and no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers that pollute our waterways.
The Farm started with koi, but just recently transitioned to tilapia, which they also plan to sell to local restaurants.
The DC Food Policy Council just published the 2019 DC Food Economy Study. It is filled with interesting information about where our food comes from, and insights about where we are headed.
Read the study: https://dcfoodpolicycouncilorg.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/food-economy-study.pdf?mc_cid=b21fb5afb3&mc_eid=5f7b24b706
Regarding urban agriculture, the study states:
“…urban farms in the District should have more access to resources and support. Farms not only supply fresh food to other food businesses; they also create local jobs, activate green spaces, and often provide healthy food to the surrounding communities. Yet currently urban farms in the District struggle to navigate licensing and permitting, identify grants and resources, and access large contracts and buyers. In addition, there is insufficient data on the current offerings and sales of District farms, making it difficult to measure progress. The District will soon provide more assistance to urban farms through the newly created Office of Urban Agriculture in the Department of Energy and the Environment created by the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Support Act.”
Anacostia Aquaponics Director Brian Filipowich appeared on the Growing with Fishes Podcast to discuss the upcoming national Putting Out Fruits Conference and other national activities.
Here’s how to access the podcast.
Podcast host Steve Raisner will be at the Conference, presenting on the newest advances in Insect and Pest Management, and partaking in an Aquaponic-Cannabis Production Panel.
What percentage of fresh fruits n’ veggies consumed within DC is grown within DC?
b) 1% – 5%
c) 5% – 10%
e) no one knows
Washington, DC is doing some great things for urban agriculture. For more info, check out the DC Sustainability 2.0 Report, or the Food System Assessment. We also recently created an Office for Urban Agriculture.
But a lot more work needs to be done. An old adage: “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. Here’s some questions we should answer:
How much are we actually growing as a percentage of our consumption? what are we growing? and what is our goal?
What percentage of food grown in DC is edible, and what resources are needed to improve our growing skills and grow better fruits n’ veggies?
One issue is that policy-makers nationwide continually underestimate the skills and resources necessary to grow high-quality crops consistently… it’s very hard! Unfortunately this is the problem UDC ran into over the last few years.
Answering these questions will inform the next steps we take to improve urban ag in DC!
Brian Filipowich, Director
Anacostia Aquaponics DC LLC
Check out the new DIY Aquaponics Guide from Peter Weeks, published at Daily Gardener: Daily Gardener – DIY Aquaponics Guide
We had a great visit to a VERY impressive aquaponic system at South Mountain MicroFARM in Boonsboro, MD.
This farm uses aquaponics for commercial crops like lettuce, which are sold locally. Aquaponics allows the farm to use only one-eighth of the land and one-tenth of the water as the same crops grown in soil!
A warm Washington, DC welcome to Professor Ayoola Akinwole (pictured right) from the University of Ibadan in Ibadan, Nigeria!
Professor Akinwole is here to take our Small-scale Aquaponics Training Course. While in town, we will also be visiting other aquaponics sites including South Mountain Microfarm, the University of Maryland Envi-Sci & Tech Department, Cultivate the City’s H Street Farms (pictured), IDEA Public Charter School, and maybe UDC.
After DC, Professor Akinwole will travel to Tennessee to view more aquaponics attractions.
We just moved 12 donated tilapia to the IDEA Public Charter School Rooftop for a new aquaponic system (some are 5 years old!) We are gradually improving their environment and water conditions to make them feel at home.
Luckily, we have an electric water heater because it’s gotten so cold lately! … tilapia are native to Africa and prefer warm water.
We’ve been feeding them a very very limited diet before we establish a good biofilter. Plus they’ll still be stressed from the move and new environment
We have to get the system planted ASAP to start sucking nutrients out of the water.
Want to learn more? You’re in luck! — we have a Small-scale Aquaponics Training Course coming up in a few weeks! Learn more:
Small-scale Aquaponics Training Course
This Spring, Anacostia Aquaponics is presenting a Small-Scale Aquaponics Training Course and Certificate Program. Learn more: Small-Scale Aquaponics Training Course and Certificate Program
The Course is designed to provide participants the skills and knowledge necessary to understand and meaningfully participate in the design, construction, and operation of a small-scale aquaponic system (about 30- to 500-gallons)
The course consists of 5 classes, each offered on multiple dates. Participants that attend all 5 classes will be awarded a Small-Scale Aquaponics Training Course Certificate of Completion from Anacostia Aquaponics.
Learn more: Small-Scale Aquaponics Training Course and Certificate Program
Business Development was the last issue we identified at the Potomac Aquaponics Conference last Fall.
Commercial aquaponics ventures have high upfront costs, and must manage multiple sides of the business: fish and plants.
We identified municipal business development agencies, the USDA, and agriculture colleges as possible collaborators in developing the commercial side of aquaponics.