One can hardly pick up a magazine or turn on a TV set today without hearing about the “Go non-GMO and eat organic” movement. Wildly popular among celebrities and even advocated by the First Lady, most people would agree abstractly that organic food is a healthier and even more moral choice. But in reality those same people tend to view it as a lifestyle choice for the rich and famous, too costly for the mainstream.
They weigh what their food budget puts in their cart at Walmart vs. Whole Foods and feel they really don’t have a choice. But that may soon change to thanks folks like Jay Lamb, his wife Tenaci and their “DIY” model of Aquaponics.
Aquaponics in simple terms is the marriage of Aquaculture (the raising of seafood in tanks such as fish and prawns), and Hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) while removing the negatives of both. This hybrid of the two disciplines creates a sustainable model that uses the waste from sea creatures to create an engine to grow the vegetable and/or plants creating an ecosystem (nitrification process) that does not require the need for the toxic chemicals used in many hydroponic systems. But perhaps the most compelling thing about their system is the affordability of it. This makes the “shop in your own backyard” approach to organic eating something the average Joe can afford.
The Lambs did not plan to start a business teaching the world about Aquaponics. Like many people they were looking for high quality food without the high price tags. When gardening proved to be labor intensive and costly, Jay began investigating alternatives and found Aquaponics. But even though the ongoing maintenance was affordable, by most people’s standard the initial setup was not –potentially running upwards of $5000. Through innovation Jay was able to develop a system that was simple to set up and cost only $1100.
Since the Lambs implemented their Aquaponics for Food system, Jay and Tenaci have grown an extensive variety of organic vegetables. They harvest fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, watercress, onions, scallions, basil, and today’s hottest foodie trend, kale. In addition to all these mouth-watering vegetables the couple raises catfish, tiger prawns and tilapia for many savory home-cooked meals.
The need to shop organic or compromise quality for the weekly groceries has become almost non-existent. And perhaps the best news of all, the follow-up and follow through of maintaining this Aquaponic for Food system requires minimal effort. Even in the middle of summer they only spend fifteen minutes a day watering their plants.
With all of these economical, environmental, and health benefits the Lambs decided that the next step for them was to share with their local community the opportunity and knowledge of how to affordably grow organic.
Jay started the meetup group Dallas Aquaponics for Food and holds monthly introductory and system-building classes. Currently Tenaci is in the planning stages of a long-term project with several women’s shelters to donate excess produce from their Aquaponic system.
For further information on Dallas Aquaponics reach Jay Lamb via Meetup.com through the Dallas Aquaponics for Food meet-up group.