Man Hours Invested
Lettuce Heads Harvested
Food Insecure Households Served
THE AQUAPONIC GARDEN
Is housed in a 1500sf commercial grade greenhouse constructed of galvanized steel frame with polycarbonate side walls and wrapped in a 6 mil. solar wrap (bubble wrap) polyethylene material. The greenhouse is designed to operate year round, 365 days a year, with a fully automated heating and cooling system. The aquaponic system is a 5000 gallon closed loop ecosystem that consists of a 1200 gallon fish tank that is home to 300 Tilapia and approximately 750sf of floating grow beds housing about 3600 Bibb lettuce plants of which 400 are harvested on a weekly basis. In addition there is a rock media grow bed and grow towers that provide a variety of harvestable herbs such as cilantro, basil, and oregano. The fish waste is converted by naturally occurring water born bacteria into vital nutrients that are absorbed by the plants which in turn clean the water for recirculation back into the fish tank. This type of system uses approximately 10% of the water used in traditional soil based gardens.
WHY WE DO IT
This aquaponic garden was born out of a desire to help meet a huge need in our community.
- We learned that there are over 82,000 people in our region who are food insecure; meaning that they have day-to-day food struggles and even bigger struggles when it comes to eating healthy.
- Over 23% of all children living in our county live in food insecure households and these unhealthy eating habits has resulted in a 24% higher obesity rate for children living below the poverty rate.
- Over 450 of these struggling families visit our campus each and every month utilizing the services of the High Plains Helping Hands Food Pantry. While the pantry is able to meet many basic food needs for these families it is very limited in providing adequate healthy vegetable options. Without healthy food options most of these families are destined to stay stuck in a vicious poverty cycle of choosing between hunger and inexpensive heavily processed foods which contribute to their poor health and even poorer outlook on life.
That reality was something we could not turn a blind eye to so after a series of divine appointments, many consultations and lots of prayer we felt compelled to construct an aquaponic greenhouse which would produce a year round healthy food option for hundreds of families in need on a weekly basis.
After launching in June of 2016 we see this “well watered garden” (Isaiah 58:10-12) being used in a variety of ways both locally and globally.
Providing fresh produce to families in need.
We currently supply the High Plains Helping Hands food pantry, the Springs Food Pantry, Eastern Plains Community Pantry, Mercy’s Gate and the Atlas Preparatory School Pantry with about 1400 heads of Bibb lettuce every month. It’s our desire to build a second greenhouse and become a certified SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) food distribution center offering an affordable, nutritious food box of vegetables to those in need. We see this as the pathway to helping us become a place that truly inspires people to live differently by addressing the cultural, affordability, proximity, knowledge and empowerment barriers that seem to keep many of us enslaved to poor eating habits.
Inspiring and uniting our surrounding community.
There is something therapeutic and inspiring about gardening together. We love how this garden is being used to bring the generations together to bring about health, healing and innovation. Studies show that gardening has a way of reducing stress, anxiety and depression and is very effective in treating dementia, cognitive learning issues, cancer, trauma, and PTSD victims. It is our goal to create a space that reaches out, involves and connects our neighbors, our schools, and those traumatized by life’s injustices.
Empowering others through our monthly Garden Market.
We currently offer our lettuce and herbs (cilantro, basil and oregano) to our community on the first weekend of every month. These markets offer a healthy food option at an affordable price to the buyer and more importantly provides the resources for us to touch many more food insecure families in our area. As we expand our operation we foresee a day coming where we will be able to offer temporary employment opportunities to those who are serious about changing their life circumstances.
Making a difference globally.
We are working towards making this a sustainable garden model that not only pays for itself but also provides additional resources to help address food insecurities around the globe. We are currently using our greenhouse as a global intern training center working with the YWAM Emerge ministry. We are also in the early planning stages of developing a sustainable greenhouse model that we will be able to export to impoverished communities in Swaziland working with our ministry partner Beyond Survival and Uganda working with New Hope Uganda. This is a model that we truly believe has the potential to transform whole communities into places where hope, health and new life abound.
OUR GREEN TEAM
We have an incredible operational “Green Team” that consists of dedicated volunteers who oversee the system on a daily basis!
Each team member, trained by one of our point leaders, helps us maintain a vibrant, healthy growing environment for our plants by volunteering at least 2-4 times per month for a morning or late afternoon shift. They also participate in our Saturday morning harvests and our first of the month Garden Market Weekend. The Garden Market helps offset the cost of our operation by providing fresh herbs and lettuce to our community for a small donation. These weekly events are wonderful opportunities for people to share a little life together with people of all different ages and backgrounds in a very therapeutic environment that has a way of renewing and recharging our spirits.
Our Green Team Point Leaders
More about Chip
More about Position
Harvest Day Point Leader
More About Leah
Garden Market Point Leaders
More about Corinne
Monday Team Point Leader
More about Renee
Tuesday Team Point Leader
More about Tara
Wednesday Team Point Leader
More about Corinne
Ed & Sherri Zehner
Thursday Team Point Leader
More about Ed & Sherri
Friday Team Point Leader
More about Chet
Dave & Kim Parsons
Saturday Team Point Leader
More about Dave & Kim
& Construction Team
More about this team
HELP US MAKE A DIFFERENCE
There are many opportunities to serve on our team. We have day to day operational teams, a Saturday Harvest Team, and a monthly Garden Market team. In addition we are always looking for some construction minded folks to help us periodically as we seek to build onto our existing operational system. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you might have about how you might contribute.
There are many ways you can support our vision. Purchases from our monthly Garden Market provide us with the resources to bless many other food insecure families in our community. Any financial contributions made help us maintain and improve our operation. We are currently have a number of projects we attempting to raise funds for: Passive Solar Water Heating System ($1000), Greenhouse Vestibule ($5000), Backup Generator System ($6000), Aquaponic School Curriculum ($1100), Aquaponic Home System ($2000) & Backup System Supplies ($2000). To give click HERE.
QUESTIONS? TALK TO US
7345 Adventure Way
Colorado Springs, CO 80923