With three fish tanks — each with tilapia at a different stage of development — the system can produce fresh seafood for the food bank every two months and about 108 heads of bok choy or lettuce every week.
By Laurie Monsebraaten
Dec. 26, 2018
The food bank, which supports more than 200,000 visits a year, was the first in Canada in 2016 to combine fish farming with hydroponic gardening to produce fresh tilapia, bok choy, romaine lettuce and spinach for hungry residents.
“Tilapia grow fast and don’t tend to fight when they are in relatively close quarters. So they are a good fish to farm,” says Cotton, 27, the food bank’s aquaponics specialist who leads several tours a week of the unique setup.
In addition to feeding hungry neighbours, the operation attracts schools and other groups to the warehouse to learn about urban farming, says executive director Meghan Nicholls.
“People love to see something new and interesting and it’s a great opportunity for us to educate the public, not only about aquaponics, but also about hunger in our community,” she says.
Food bank use in the city of more than 720,000 jumped 18 per cent over last year — the biggest increase in nine years, she adds.