Southside Aquaponic FarmTM is a small greenhouse in Sacramento’s Southside Park neighborhood where I grow fish and vegetables together in a soil-less system called “aquaponics”. (Aqua what?? Click here for more info about aquaponics.)
Please note that now I am also heavily involved in an exciting new non-profit educational aquaponics facility in the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento - learn more at Green Tech Teaching Urban Farming and Aquaponics (TUFA) Project.
About as “Green” as you can get!
SAF is a very environmentally friendly operation! It uses very little water (just an estimated 10% as much as traditional farming) and very little energy (under 100 watts for a little water pump and a couple other essentials). Main inputs are fish food and sunlight, which is of course abundant in Sacramento. The greenhouse is designed to conserve energy - I don’t burn any fuel for heating or cooling. I typically don’t burn any fuel for delivery either - because restaurants on the Grid are so close, I can deliver veggies by Trek, not by truck.
SAF is all-natural: no sprays, no pesticides. I couldn’t use pesticides even if I wanted to: they would poison the fish. Pests are less of a problem because there’s no soil in the system. But when pests do occur, I manage them by natural “Integrated Pest Management” methods: hand picking, washing them off, bringing in beneficial predator insects, etc.
look closely: integrated pest management at work at SAF
The main nutrition for the plants comes not from artificial fertilizers, but from the natural by-products of fish metabolism (primarily nitrogen that the fish in the system exhale).
What does Southside Aquaponic FarmTM grow?
Short answer: what do you want me to grow for your restaurant? Leafy greens, herbs, and flowers are the most feasible. Tell me what you want and we'll see what we can work out. Lots and lots of different kinds of produce can grow in an aquaponic system. So far I’ve grown different varieties of:
shiso (a Japanese herb)
golden stem chard at SAF
Advantages for restauranteurs
Super tasty: naturally grown, freshly picked: tastes great.
Super local: SAF’s greenhouse is less than 2 miles from any restaurant on the Grid. Which translates to...
Super fresh: harvest-to-kitchen times measured not in days or hours, but in minutes. Deliver time of day can be arranged to suit your needs. If desired, much of SAF’s produce can be delivered “live” (roots on) for maximum freshness.
...are not as limiting in my operation because the volume of water recirculating in the system moderates the temperature of the roots and the air, so that my plants can thrive in somewhat greater extremes of weather than they typically do when grown in dirt. We’ll see over time how far I can push that. In keeping with an environmentally friendly ethic, I don’t want to cross the line and start burning fuel for heating and cooling.
Does SAF sell fish?
No, just veggies. When I expand to the point of raising more fish than my family can eat, I might consider selling fish too, but that’s a ways off.
a few SAF fishies
Want to visit?
In addition to SAF's small greenhouse, you might want to check out a larger non-profit aquaponics facility I'm heavily involved in now: the Green Tech Teaching Urban Farming and Aquaponics (TUFA) Project. Contact me any time to make arrangements to visit.
Southside Aquaponic FarmTM is a small demonstration project at the moment. I'd love to expand in the future, but since 2014 I have been focusing on developing an exciting new non-profit educational aquaponics facility in the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento - learn more at Green Tech Teaching Urban Farming and Aquaponics (TUFA) Project.
I’ve been a designer/builder of customized wheelchairs, an office worker, a community organizer, an organic gardener, and a spouse and father. I am sole proprietor of Southside Aquaponic FarmTM and was the first chair of the Sacramento branch of the Aquaponics Association, having jumped into aquaponics in 2009. I also teach pre-apprentice construction skills to teens through Green Tech. My family and I have lived in Sacramento's Southside Park neighborhood since 2001, steps away from the SAF greenhouse. I grew up outside of Detroit.