The GrowHaus is an indoor farm, marketplace and educational center in Denver's Elyria-Swansea neighborhood, an area considered a "food desert" lacking a grocery store within 3 square miles. Their goal is to provide healthy, affordable food for the surrounding community and raise awareness about issues of food justice and sustainability. For over a year now, Colorado Aquaponics has enjoyed a wonderful partnership with the GrowHaus.
Colorado Aquaponics has two different styles of aquaponic systems (profiled below) that are currently in operation at the GrowHaus. We are selling produce from these systems to the Same Cafe, a local Denver restaurant whose philosophy is that everyone, regardless of economic status, deserves the chance to eat healthy food while being treated with dignity. This philosophy aligns well with the the GrowHaus mission as well as our desire to provide environmentally and socially responsible food production.
Our long term intention is to design and build a large commercial scale system. We are in the process of fund raising as well as planning required to complete systems throughout the almost 20,000 s.f. reclaimed greenhouse. The development of additional systems will not only help provide food to the community and restaurants but it will also provide green jobs for the local economy and the residents of the Elyria Swansea neighborhood.
Below is some basic information about each of the systems designed and built by CA featured at the GrowHaus.
Colorado Aquaponics Bench System
Water consumption is about 10% of what would be otherwise used in traditional agriculture due to the recirculating nature of the system. Plants are able to take up nutrients on a consistent basis, resulting in stronger and more rapid plant growth. The water is kept around 75 degrees, primarily for the health of Tilapia, but this also acts as a great benefit for the plants by providing warm water at the root zone. This also allows for some colder weather crops to tolerate lower average air temperatures making the system ideal for year round production.
The 275 gallon fish tank is partially sunk into the ground, allowing for the proper height for the bench top cover as well as providing additional ground insulation around the tank base. We are raising 85 Rocky Mountain White Tilapia originally from the Colorado Gator farm in Mosca, CO. There is a mixed poplulation of fingerlings and adult Tilapia.
Growing Power model of aquaponics which incorporates the use of vertical farming to increase production in a limited footprint.
The pump located in the fish tank floods both grow beds simultaneously. The pump is on a timer which allows the pump to circulate water for 30 minutes every hour. The grow beds have a thin 2" layer of pea gravel and are slightly pitched allowing the water to drain to one end and return to the fish tank through a large tube with several slots cut into the top. This allows the water to spill out and cascade uniformly across the top of the fish tank providing additional aeration and oxygenation of the water.
In this picture, the top grow bed is growing watercress and the middle grow bed contains mostly mizuna lettuce and a few chard and other lettuce varieties.
This system contains 15 yellow perch who provide nutrients to a small 2x4' grow bed. This system has grown a variety of herbs, broccoli micros, watercress and lettuce varieties. We have used a single 55 gallon barrel obtained from the local Pepsi supplier for the fish tank and sump tank. Reusing materials is a great way to get started in aquaponics and save a little money as well.