A discussion with a member of the public in the Winter Gardens whilst feeding the fish prompted me to write this blog post to share the motivations of trying to develop aquaponics in Sheffield, and the UK.
As the global population spirals towards its predicted value of 9.2 billion by 2050, demand on global food production systems will be greater than ever before, whilst forecast climatic changes, increasing global temperatures and more extreme weather events will further impede crop yield successes, making it more difficult to maintain, let alone increase global food production. This is a massive issue — can we really make a different? Or is it such a huge disaster there’s no point in bothering?
Aquaponics comes into this as a ‘bottom-up’, community based approach in contribution to resilience in society. it isn’t a new concept: ancient Chinese communities commonly reared fish in the shallow rice paddy waters. Recently the technique has started spreading in Western society as a potential contributor to the emerging trend of urban farming and food production, something that will likely proliferate hugely in the near future as cities and urban populations expand and as long distance and polluting food supply chains become less and less viable.
Although widely used and well established in south-east Asia, information about and accessibility of aquaponics in temperate western climates is relatively lacking. By developing systems here, we hope to make aquaponics systems simple and cheap to install and run, making them a viable option to contribute to food security and social resilience. We’re not aiming to solve the global agricultural crisis, nor are we promising to feed a nation on tilapia and leafy greens 🙂 but hope to contribute to making aquaponics accessible, more widespread and a socially accepted method of food production, with a focus on freshness, quality, and local produce, with minimal inputs and little waste.
But how can we change perceptions and behaviour towards food production and consumption, and spread aquaponics? Watch this space for my next article!