Canadian agriculture firm Nutraponics told Cayman 27 a farming technique pioneered by the ancient Aztecs could help meet our island’s demand for local organic produce.
It’s called aquaponics, where farmed fish and bacteria team up to provide the nutrients for growing leafy greens and other veggies.
Nutraponics is working to turn a proposal for an aquaponic farm in West Bay into a reality.
“It’s completely organic, and the plants grow very very well, it’s a high productivity farm,” said Tim Goltz of Nutraponics.
He told Cayman 27 says the company’s proposed aquaponic farm could produce enough organic local produce to feed a sizable chunk of the island’s population.
“We vertically rack the plants so that the amount of land that we need, in this case under an acre, can produce food for 8-12 thousand adults per year,” said Mr. Goltz.
He said an on-island operation means jobs. He told Cayman 27 a fully functional farm could employ around 45 people. It also means residents could access fresher, higher quality produce than what arrives via shipping container.
“If it tastes better than if it had been setting on a ship for three weeks, and when the food tastes better, the children are more likely to eat it and it becomes their lifestyle,” said Mr. Goltz.
Nutraponics already has its eye on a piece of land next to Sammy’s Pond near Mount Pleasant in West bay. Dr. John Vidmar, a botanist, explained how the process works.
“In aquaponics, we actually have an ecosystem. We have fish, bacteria, plants. What happens is, we feed the fish, the fish then poo, that gets concerted by the bacteria into plant rich food. The plants take it up, clean the water, and then that water is recycled,” said Dr. Vidmar.
He said that ecosystem will be completely self-contained and bio-secure, and that the farm will most likely utilise farmed tilapia for its aquaculture component.
“It’s a very easy fish in terms of growing, it doesn’t use this much water in a sense of how much space you have for the fish in the tanks,’ he said.
Nutraponics said it’s in exploratory discussions with the National Trust, and hopes to be ready for its first harvest in 2018.
You may remember an an attempt to establish a commercial aquaponic farm near Bodden Town in the early 2000’s, but that endeavor was scrapped after hurricane Ivan hit back in 2004.