The GrowHaus is committed to providing an abundance of organic food year-round with a minimum of inputs. Our growing operations demonstrate a variety of innovative, sustainable and community oriented urban farming techniques. The Hydrofarm is a commercial facility designed to maximize yield for our neighbors and generate earned income. The commercial Aquaponics System will increase food production capabilities and offer a protein source through fresh fish.
The Hydrofarm is a state-of-the-art, 5,000 square foot commercial farm that will grow fresh leafy greens for distribution throughout Elyria-Swansea and other local restaurants and markets. Renovations on the Hydrofarm are nearly complete, and our first harvest is scheduled for Fall 2011.
Produce in the Hydrofarm will be grown organically using hydroponics, a technique that employs a recirculating nutrient solution instead of soil to achieve fast, reliable yields. Hydroponics uses up to 90 percent less water than commercial organic farming, and is able to attain per-square-foot yields many times greater. The climate of the Hydrofarm space as well as watering schedules, pH, and fertilizer levels are all automatically controlled by computerized systems.
Once it is fully operational, we will be able to grow approximately 5,000 plants at a time, with a harvest every 30 to 60 days. Some of the crops grown will be distributed at an affordable price to Elyria-Swansea residents through corner stores and our own farmstand, while the remainder will be high-value crops grown for restaurants and specialty markets.
Aquaponics combines the best aspects of aquaculture (growing fish) and hydroponics (growing plants) in a recirculating system. It is a unique, synergistic growing technique mimicking a natural ecosystem. The commercial scale aquaponics system occupies 3,200 square feet and was built and is maintained by the Colorado Aquaponics team in partnership with GrowHaus staff, interns, volunteers and community members.
The aquaponics system is a hybrid design, combining raft culture with media growbeds, producing fresh fish such as tilapia and bass, as well as nutritious salad and cooking greens, culinary herbs, and fruiting vegetables year round. The nutrient rich water from the fish tanks provides an abundant fertilizer for the plants. The plants in turn, clean and filter the water that returns to the fish tank. Aquaponic farming uses about 10% of the water consumed by traditional soil based agriculture without any chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and produces zero waste. The system design uses solar thermal equipment to heat the water during cold weather, gravity to move water, and energy efficient air and water pumps to minimize energy consumption.
The aquaponics system at GrowHaus will serve as a model that can be replicated in community centers, schools, places of worship, correctional facilities, housing developments and other locations in the future. Skills gained through construction and maintenance, internship opportunities and educational training can be used in many of these locations to increase local food production both here and around the world. Creating a community based commercial aquaponics system meets the GrowHaus’ and Colorado Aquaponic’s collective core values which are centered on environmental, social and economic sustainability.