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Food bank sets up own farm to raise fish and vegetables

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Following consistent difficulty in sourcing fresh produce, Ontario’s Mississauga Food Bank set up an aquaponics farm in the corner of its warehouse.

Providing food for more than 180,000 meals each month, the Mississauga Food Bank is busy. Half of the food provided is fresh produce, and more is always needed. Deciding to help fill the gap in provisions through in-house farming, the Food Bank has established its own aquaponics system. A combination of farming fish (aquaculture) and soil-less agriculture (hydroponics), the Food Bank’s hydroponics production is called the AquaGrow Farms. Run from a corner of the company’s warehouse, the farm is currently raising tilapia and lettuce.

Lettuce is considered a starter product for those new to aquaponics farming, and the Mississauga team is already planning to experiment with additional crops. The farm works by using bacteria to break down waste from the fish into fertilizer for the plants. The nutrient rich water is then pumped to the growing tanks where, in the process of absorbing the nutrients, the plants purify the water for further use by the fish. With only one working farm remaining in the area, the Food Bank hopes that other organizations take inspiration from the Mississauga farm and experiment themselves with urban farming.

Other cities and organizations are also finding ways of bringing farming closer to communities. In Rotterdam, a floating dairy farm in the harbor uses animal waste for power, and in Spain, an app helps farmers working near an area of ecological importance save water. How could some of the more successful projects be linked for further sustainability improvements?

Email: colin@themississaugafoodbank.org

Website: www.themississaugafoodbank.org

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