Having an emergency food storage is great. All it takes is a bit of planning, and you can cobble together all of the nutrition and resources you and your family could need. However, there’s one variable that you can’t plan for: time. Disasters have a way of showing up unexpectedly, and sticking around for as long as they want. So, while two week’s worth of supplies will probably be enough to get you through an emergency situation, there’s just no way to know for sure. However, there is something that you can do to ensure that your family will have limitless fresh food for as long as they need it. That something is called aquaponics, a here’s what it consists of.
Aquaponics uses elements from both hydroponics (gardening without the use of soil) and aquaculture (fish farming). This results in a symbiotic circle in which the two independent ecosystems supply each other with necessary nutrients for their mutual benefit. The system consists of a fish tank filled with (you guessed it) fish. The dirty waste water from the fish is pumped out of the tank, and into various grow beds, where produce is able to use the waste as fertilizer. These beds actually act as filters for the water, with the plants cleaning it of its impurities before it’s cycled back into the tank. It’s a relationship that is 100% beneficial for everyone involved, especially you.
If you have a well designed aquaponics system during an emergency situation, you’ll have access to fresh, crisp produce that you would probably not be able to get otherwise. What more, you’ll also have a great source of protein. Those fish aren’t just there for ambiance; as they grow and reproduce, you’ll be able to catch and cook them for a tasty meal. Best of all, because the system is self perpetuating, if you keep everything working properly and regulate your food consumption, you’ll never run out. It kind of makes dehydrated and canned goods look a little weak, doesn’t it?
Setting up an aquaponic system isn’t very difficult at all. Sure, if you find a diagram online and try to work directly from it, chances are you’re going to be a little intimidated, but once you grasp the core concepts involved, it really becomes pretty simple. As far as the fish go, you can use all different types, but some of the most common one are Tilapia, koi, goldfish, and even bass and trout! However, some fish will be more difficult to raise, or might be more sensitive to certain climates, so do a little research and see what’s best for you.
A few other benefits of aquaponics are:
- Aquaponics mimic the natural cycle. Mass agricultural production often relies on harmful chemicals and environmentally devastating harvesting techniques. Aquaponics, however, allows people to grow and farm food through mimicking the Earth’s natural ecosystem. This means that it’s efficient, both in terms of energy used and waste produced. It also wastes far less water than conventional gardening, because instead of having the water seep into the soil and dissipate, it’s recycled back through the fish tank.
- Aquaponics produces quickly. Normal soil gardening relies upon regular watering and fertilization to produce food. Aquaponics, on the other hand, uses a system in which the water is continually bringing nutrients to the plants. This allows them to grow faster than they otherwise would.
- Aquaponics can fit as much space as you have. Have a few square feet in your backyard? Perfect. The system can be as large or as small as you like. And if you’re willing to get creative during the design phase, you can set one up almost anywhere. If you have more room, then that’s even better. Some practical individuals have even converted outdoor pools into productive modern farms.
- Aquaponics are inexpensive. Buying the materials you need to build your system shouldn’t set you back much at all. You also won’t have to buy expensive filters, chemicals, or plant food. You will need to pick up something for the fish to eat, but fish food isn’t generally all that expensive. Besides, if you’re growing things like lettuce, cucumber, or zucchini, then you might even be able to supplement your fishes’ diet with home grown produce! Just parboil the vegetables and chop them up, and some fish will go absolutely wild for them.
- Aquaponics are easy to maintain. No soil means no weeding, and constant irrigation means never having to water the plants. If you can remember to feed the fish every day, your responsibilities are basically taken care of.
So, when you’re planning your food storage, seriously consider installing an aquaponics system. A little fresh food to supplement your stale MRE provisions will do you and your family a world of good when disaster strikes.
Lee Flynn is a freelance writer interested in helping others develop self reliance through food storage.