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Denver Post Article on Colorado Aquaponics

posted Sep 19, 2012, 12:05 PM by Tawnya Sawyer
BUSINESS

New aquaponics farming system helps cities and drought-stricken regions

POSTED:   09/19/2012 12:01:00 AM MDT
UPDATED:   09/19/2012 10:46:55 AM MDT
By Howard Pankratz
The Denver Post
JD Sawyer left, and his wife Tawnya Sawyer, of Colorado Aquaponics, harvest chard, Monday September 10, 2012, in Arvada. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)

Anurban farm aimed at providing food for an economically disadvantaged northwest Denver neighborhoodis drawing widespread interest because of its unique techniques.

GrowHaus — co-founded by Adam Brock who works in partnership with JD and Tawnya Sawyer of Colorado Aquaponics — uses an aquaponic growing system.

The basic components of the system are a greenhouse containing tubs of well-fed fish and a water-circulation system that runs under the plants or beds of produce. Fish waste is treated within the system and converted to nutrients, which feed the plants. The plants absorb the nutrients and purify the water, which is then recirculated

Bibb lettuce is harvested at GrowHaus. (Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post)
back to the fish tanks.

GrowHaus is using the method — which uses an estimated 10 percent of the water used by traditional agriculture — to produce chard, kale, mustard greens and basil, which are distributed within the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood where it is located.

Though the project initially started as a way for the neighborhood to get cheap, healthy food, it is drawing broad interest as a model for urban- and water-saving agriculture.

"I think one of the great things about GrowHaus is the fact that people come here from all over the world," said Tawnya Sawyer. "We are always impressed and amazed about the number of different nationalities that come to this location to understand what urban farming looks like and what water conservation looks like."

Sawyer said she is working with U.S. tribal nations interested in their farming techniques and has visited with many people from other nations who visit GrowHaus.

Additionally, the city of Denver has requested a feasibility study on setting up such a system at the county jail.

Steven Newman, a professor of Floriculture at the Colorado State University's Greenhouse and Floricuture Extension, said aquaponics combines two

Adam Brock is director of operations. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)
important elements for today's society and can conceivably expand into urban areas as well as American Indian lands and Third World countries.

Aquaponics, he said, is a great water-saving way to grow food locally — an increasingly important issue as people seek to reduce their carbon footprints by eating food grown closer to home and focus on bringing healthy food to struggling communities.

Equally important, Newman said, is the social aspect. Such operations have the potential to provide an important place for women in Third World countries to work and socialize while providing food for their communities, he said.

The Sawyers alternate between their urban greenhouse farm in Arvada and the GrowHaus, but say they

Waste from tilapia fish is used to feed plants in the aquaponic operation. (Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post)
will soon work completely from the GrowHaus, which is expanding.

Howard Pankratz: 303-954-1939or hpankratz@denverpost.com



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