Brea farm uses aquaponics system to save water and grow produce

In Local News, News

A Brea farm is reshaping the local farming industry.

Following the State of Emergency declared in early January by Gov. Jerry Brown, the California drought has become a big concern for farmers throughout the state. Future Foods Farms in Brea aims to make their farms drought and eco-friendly.

The organic farm has grown their produce through a dynamic method called aquaponics, a practice that mixes aquaculture and hydroponics to create a self-sustaining system in which water is recycled with fish, said Amber Amos, a volunteer worker at Future Foods Farms.

“We use the nutrients from the fish and the pond water to water our plants, and then our plants recycle our water and then goes back into our fish,” Amos said.

As the owner of one of the largest aquaponics farms in California, Adam Navidi has recruited several scientists as consultants in addition to several college professors and interns who maintain and collect research on a daily basis.

The 25-acre farm has ponds of tilapia that are fed organic sprouts. In turn their waste produces a chemical called nitrite which can be broken down and turned into fertilizer by bacteria and then used to water their crops.

The crops then produce nitrate which filters the water, making it reusable for the fish ponds again, Amos said.

“With a conventional hydroponics farm, it takes 10-15 gallons of water to grow one head of lettuce, and the way that we do it, we can do it with one gallon,” Amos said.

The process has virtually nonexistent carbon footprint, she said.
The California drought has now affected more than 37 million people with the mass majority of the state experiencing either “extreme” or “exceptional” drought conditions, according the United States Drought Monitor. For the first time in the U.S. Drought Monitor’s history, 100 percent of California has been declared as severe or extreme drought

Brown’s first request during the official State of Emergency announcement was for residents to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by at least 20 percent, which would would give California reservoirs a chance to sustain viable amounts of water.
Future Foods Farms’ resources are dynamically stable and fitting for California’s water crisis.

The one gallon it takes for this local farm’s aquaponics system to produce a single vegetable is more drought friendly than the 60 gallons it takes to create a serving of corn or the 18 gallons it takes to grow one apple for a typical farm.

“We’re definitely on the pioneering end of water conservation in terms of production,” Amos said. “Everything that we do has a green movement in mind. Everything that we use on the farm is recycled.”

While the current drought conditions of Orange County haven’t approached immediate danger–as other areas of California have–this Brea farm is ensuring water conditions stay prosperous.

“We’ve got finite resources and we’re running out of everything. So if we can get other people on board to grow their own food, or set up an aquaponics system in their backyard,” Amos said.

California has finite resources and Future Foods Farms is raising environmental awareness by encouraging residents to build their own aquaponics farm in their backyards, and grow their own food by making use of small spaces and growing vertically.

“The aquaponics movement is indeed the future of farming,” Amos said.

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