2:51 PM on Wednesday, June 9th, 2010No Comments
Great story on Urban Harvest in the Oklahoman today! Check out the video featured on NewsOK:
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is one of the few food banks in the nation that utilizes an aquaponic system. On Saturday, the Urban Harvest program offered class to teach the community how to build and maintain the system in their own backyard. Aquaponics is a system of growing fish and edible plants in a closed, circulating system. It creates a bio-system in which fish waste provides nutrients for the plants, and the plants clean the water for the fish.
The Regional Food Bank has been experimenting with two different aquaponics systems since 2006 and has had great results. The current system consists of a tank that can hold up to 800 tilapia, connected to two 50-feet-long floating grows beds that accommodate up to 800 plant units. Typically, lettuce grows to harvest size in five weeks in this system. The system can be smaller or larger, based on needs and goals.
Tilapia is the fish of choice for most growers as they grow from fingerling to 1.5 pounds in as little as nine months. The leafy greens and herbs grow quickly, producing nutritious food faster than field growing.
The class, which was in such high demand that a waiting list was created, consisted of 30 students who worked to construct a “low-tech” aquaponic system that could be adapted to home or small business with a relatively small financial investment. The system will be used as the Urban Harvest nursery for baby tilapia.
Aquaponics is a system of growing fish and edible plants in a closed circulating system that creates a bio-system in which fish waste provides nutrients for the plants, and plants filter and clean the water for the fish.
Urban Harvest is offering an aquaponics workshop to introduce the basic concepts of the system. The class will help people decide if they want to invest in establishing one of these systems through hands on learning. It will be held on March 27 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The cost to attend is $25.00.
The aquaponics class will consist of two components (lunch on your own between 12:00pm and 1:00pm; Urban Harvest will provide beverages if you want to brown-bag-it):
- 9:00–12:00: Introductions followed by a film and lecture based upon the Urban Harvest experience of building and operating a greenhouse aquaponics system. A walk-and-talk will introduce the students to the commercial system located in the greenhouse.
- 1:00-4:00: Students will assist with the construction of a “low tech” aquaponic system that could be adapted to home or small business with relatively low financial investment. The system will become the Urban Harvest nursery for baby Tilapia.
At the Regional Food Bank, we have been experimenting with two different systems since 2006 and have had great results. Our experience has come from formal training and a lot of trial and error! The first system was based upon the low-tech Growing Power model from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This was a vertical system of plant beds connected to a tank that held 100 tilapia. The system worked well, successfully growing out both fish and various edible plants and herbs. Later, a larger commercial system modeled after a concept developed by the University of The Virgin Islands was established. Our current system consists of a tank that can hold up to 800 tilapia, connected to two 50 foot long floating grow beds that accommodate up to 800 plant units. Typically, lettuce grows to harvest size in 5 to 6 weeks in this system. This type of system can be smaller or larger based on needs and goals.
Tilapia is the fish of choice for most growers as they grow from fingerling to 1.5 pounds in as little as 9 months while leafy greens and herbs grow quickly, producing nutritious food faster than field growing.
Learn the basic knowledge and skills you need to get a home garden started with Urban Harvest Sustainable Home Gardening Classes. Urban Harvest is an urban agriculture program offering a series of basic home gardening classes to help Oklahomans glean the skills needed to grow food in their own yards.
Students learn in both a theory (classroom) and hands-on setting, while exploring everything from basic seed starting and composting to building their own home aquaponic system.
Classes range in cost from $10-$25 and take place at the Regional Food Bank, located at 3355 S. Purdue in Oklahoma City. All payments go to further the work of Urban Harvest in its sustainable organic gardening projects. Because limited space is available, advanced registration is required and early signup is encouraged.
Class scheduling and pricing is as follows:
Basic Raised Bed Gardening: February 20, 1-4 p.m. $15
Basic Home Composting: February 27, 1-4 p.m. $10
Basic Seed Starting: February 28, 1-4 p.m. $10
Basic Raised Bed Gardening: March 6, 1-4 p.m. $15
Basic Seed Starting: March 13, 1-4 p.m. $10
Drip Irrigation for Sustainability: March 18, 1-4 p.m. $10
Basic Raised Bed Gardening: March 20, 1-4 p.m. $15
Intro to Building a Home Aquaphonic System: March 27 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $25
Urban Harvest is designed to make fresh fruits and vegetables more readily available to hungry Oklahomans and increasing food security through the core components of the program. Volunteers are needed to help with various Urban Harvest projects!
Red Dirt Soil Builders is a specialized volunteer group that meets Saturday mornings from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Volunteers receive training on composting techniques and help move spoiled produce to the composting areas. Here the waste becomes a valuable soil amendment. A willingness to learn, get dirty and to do something green is required for volunteers.
This month, Urban Harvest will begin starting seeds in the greenhouse. Individuals and groups are needed to help start, propagate and care for greenhouse seedlings. In May, thousands of these plants will be distributed to our community gardens at no cost.
Are you interested in production gardening? Urban Harvest will begin planting cool weather crops starting in Mid February and will continue into summer crops through June. Get your hands dirty planting, caring for and harvesting vegetables that are used in the fight against hunger in Oklahoma.
To sign up to volunteer, contact Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-7108.
4:53 PM on Monday, December 21st, 20091 Comment
Garden greetings from Urban Harvest!
Urban Harvest originally was developed to help start and sustain community gardens in the Oklahoma City area. Community gardens are gardens that are established by churches, schools, civic organizations or just neighbors who work together to grow food and plants on empty lots. Currently we are working with 28 active community gardens and have several that are in various stages of organization for the spring of 2010. The program helps with organization and developing solid plans for gardens, provides on-the-ground assistance during the building process, looks for funding and bulk gardening materials and provides free seedlings and seed when available (last year several thousand plants were started in our greenhouses and given to gardens). We also host quarterly meetings for networking and education.
While the philosophy “build it and they will come” makes a great movie, it does not always happen so easily in reality! The key is organizing and having a strong nucleus of dedicated gardeners. Those interested in establishing a community garden can contact Bruce at email@example.com for more information. And anyone can make an impact by donating gardening materials or by making a financial gift to support community gardens.
Urban Harvest has been very busy the past few months expanding its composting activities in our demonstration and production gardens located at the Regional Food Bank’s Community Garden. We use several techniques to compost waste materials such as spoiled straw, dead leaves, grass and spoiled produce. At times, the Food Bank receives produce that is spoiled or near spoilage on arrival. Instead of throwing this raw material away—and paying someone to haul it off—we add it to our compost piles or feed it to our worms, which also produce a high quality plant food with their castings.
We use the compost to build our garden soils while diverting waste from the Oklahoma City landfill. This helps us reduce the Food Bank’s waste removal bill. When a donation of $1 provides seven meals to Oklahoma’s hungry, this is not an insignificant act. Over the past five weeks, our composting efforts have had a financial impact of $3,000 on our organization.
Check out this video of our compost pile:
We have formed a new volunteer group called the Red Dirt Soil Builders, and you are invited to join! This group meets most Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to noon to learn about composting and help with the labor of making compost. Volunteers may qualify for free compost next summer. Those interested can contact Bruce at 405-604-7108 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Bruce Edward, Urban Harvest Director