aquaponics

10 reasons why Aquaponics is ideal in Boracay

Lettuce as grown in aquaponics plots

Lettuce as grown in aquaponics plots

One thing that I’ve seen and got me curious in Tahanan, that beautiful villa in Diniwid, Boracay Island where I stayed for a couple of days, is the use of aquaponics to grow vegetables and herbs in its garden. Aquaponics what?

I know hydroponics, growing plants in gravel or sand with nutrients added to water. But aquaponics? I had to check out online, as defined by Google:

a system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water

In the Tahanan setup, a hose siphons water from the fish pond within the garden to the aquaponics plots that grows herbs and vegetables. From these plots, water is hosed back to the fishpond. It might be too simple a process but one that is remarkably ideal in many ways.

Top view of aquaponics plot

Top view of aquaponics plot

As told to me by the owners of Tahanan,

The idea behind the Aquaponcis vegetable garden design and installation is to educate local house owners on how to use their spaces, find a relaxing hobby and have healthy food. This is to give back fresh and organic food using a new sustainable technology, and to cut the retailing costs.

For Boracay, with very limited to almost no farming areas and which depends on outside supply for the bulk of its produce needs, if done right and in such a scale, aquaponics gardening can give livelihood to locals and supply organic food to hotels and restaurants. It’s also environment friendly, sustainable and income generating.

Aquaponics plot setup wherein water from a fishpond is routed to the different plots

Aquaponics plot setup wherein water from a fishpond is routed to the different plots

With the help of Tahanan, here are the top 10 reasons why Aquaponics is ideal in a garden, and in Boracay:

1 Organic
Aquaponics is a closed system wherein fish waste in water provides nitrates broken down by bacteria which in turn nourishes the plants. There is no need for chemical fertilizers, else you will endanger the fish.

2 Conserve water
Unlike traditional gardening methods wherein you water the plants every now and then, water in an aquaponics system is cycled through: from fishpond, nutrient laden water goes through the aquaponics plots that are then filtered and returned to the fishpond. There’s no water wastage present.

Herbs grown in aquaponics bamboo system

Herbs grown in aquaponics bamboo system

3 Healthier, faster growing plants
Based on Ibeth’s experience, plants grew 3-4 times faster than those planted on soil. Perhaps, this might be caused by the nutrients from the fish waste and because one can set the watering time, plants grown aquaponically are well nourished.

4 Smaller space
With aquaponics setup enabling vertical farming or gardening, the system can really save on space enabling larger produce in a smaller space which is ideal in urban areas. Ibeth claimed that a part of her garage is devoted to aquaponics gardening and has twice as more yield in a 50 square meter space.

Left, as placed on a bamboo tube; Right, root system immersed in the water

Left, as placed on a bamboo tube; Right, root system immersed in the water

5 Clean fishponds
The use of pumice in an aquaponics’s system filters the water so that there’s no need to clean the fishpond from time to time. It’s really an ideal setup!

6 Saves time
An aquaponics system can be setup with a timer control to set water cycling time. Once installed, its a stand alone, build and forget system.

Leafy greens as set up in aquaponics plots

Leafy greens as set up in aquaponics plots

7 Rearing edible fish
For a more sustainable aquaponics garden, why not use edible fish that you can harvest after a few months? It’s not only organically grown but also free and cost efficient protein for food.

8 No weeds
An aquaponics system deters the growth of weeds, thus, no need to worry about cleaning up your plots.

Top view of lettuce in aquaponics plot

Top view of lettuce in aquaponics plot

9 Save on vegetables
Growing vegetables in an aquaponics system not only affords you with fresh supply, you need not buy these anymore. With the right amount of produce, one can even earn through selling organically grown veggies.

10 Environment friendly
An Aquaponics system is not only organic, thus environment friendly, but one can take a step farther by installing solar panels to run the pump system to control the water cycle.

Thanx to Ibeth of Createra Inc., villa managers of Tahanan as well as for the useful information on Aquaponics which I really find as a good way of empowering locals in Boracay.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

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