Waco Food Pantry Plans to Grow Food, Fish with Aquaponic System - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Waco Food Pantry Plans to Grow Food, Fish with Aquaponic System

Posted: Updated:
(KCEN) – A local food pantry is turning to nature to help feed needy families. They hope to start farming food to give and sell with a system called aquaponics.

It's a pretty simple concept: basically a garden in a fish tank.

"This whole thing is like growing on steroids,” said Robert Gager, director of Shepherd’s Heart in Waco. "It'll just be a continuous cycle, fish feeding plants, plants feeding fish."

It’s a way for Gager to beef up resources for the food pantry.

"At this particular time of the year, in the summer, every year we see a drop in food availability," Gager said.

And they're feeding a lot of families -- nearly 40,000 of them last year. “That's a lot of food,” he said, “1.3 million pounds."

Gager is partnering with a local engineer to help the system grow into reality.

"It's just the concept of doing something with very little and producing a lot,” said Dr. Michael Kemp, an engineer and former Hewitt mayor.

The plants grow in gravel in plastic tubs. Water is pumped through the system, and back into a fish tank. It’s a symbiotic way to grow fruits, veggies and protein.

“Perpetual motion,” Kemp said. “I like to think of it that way: It's something that starts and doesn't stop."

Right now they're still in the prototype phase. Kemp is building a test model in his back yard in Hewitt, using some materials donated by a Baylor student working on aquaponics.

"We're going to use that as a typical showcase to show people how it's done," he said. Then they move on to the big installment on TSTC’s campus.

They hope to plant by the fall, and harvest just two months later.

Shepherd’s Heart hopes to be able to grow enough food on three or four acres to feed 2,000 people every month.

They plan to sell about half of that at farmer's markets to help fund other programs, and give the other half away.

Part of Kemp’s role is to make sure that’s possible. “It's to make it better, to do it more efficiently. And that's my challenge,” he said.

It's already a very efficient system. Aquaponics creates its own ecosystem that grows plants and fish very quickly.

It's a closed system that requires just a fifth of the water needed for conventional growing.

“In this state we're always going from rags to riches with our water supply,” said Gager. “We need to be able to control our resources."

Gager figures they can get 10 to 15 harvests per year from the system.

"Once we get the systems built,” he said, “we won't put any more money into it."

It's very low-maintenance, and to add on another growing pod, "it's just a matter of adding some plumbing and adding another section to it."

They also plan to raise chickens so they can provide fresh eggs.

  • Latest NewsMore>>

  • Interim Little River-Academy Police Chief Resigns Due To Conflict With Mayor

    Interim Little River-Academy Police Chief Resigns Due To Conflict With Mayor

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 11:51 PM EDT2014-07-24 03:51:33 GMT
    (KCEN) -- Interim Little River-Academy Police Chief Michael Lugo has resigned due to a conflict of interest with Mayor Ronnie White.Details surrounding the conflict between the Mayor White and Chief Lugo are not known at this time. His resignation became effective just before 9 Wednesday evening.Lugo was named interim chief following the shooting death of Chief Lee Dixon last month.More >>
    (KCEN) -- Interim Little River-Academy Police Chief Michael Lugo has resigned due to a conflict of interest with Mayor Ronnie White.Details surrounding the conflict between the Mayor White and Chief Lugo are not known at this time. His resignation became effective just before 9 Wednesday evening.Lugo was named interim chief following the shooting death of Chief Lee Dixon last month.More >>
  • 4-Year-Old Boy Banned From Doughnut Shop By Managers For Being 'Rude'

    4-Year-Old Boy Banned From Doughnut Shop By Managers For Being 'Rude'

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 10:36 PM EDT2014-07-24 02:36:30 GMT
    MONROE, CT (WFSB) - Kids say the darndest things, but one local inquisitive 4-year-old boy asked a question that got him banned from a Monroe doughnut shop. "We were screamed at in front of the door, ‘he's not allowed in here, he's rude'," said Rebecca Denham as she described her experience at the Doughnut Inn on Tuesday morning. Denham said her son, Justin Otero, asked a woman at the doughnut shop if she had a baby in her belly. When the woman said ‘No' Otero apologized, and his mother said ...More >>
    MONROE, CT (WFSB) - Kids say the darndest things, but one local inquisitive 4-year-old boy asked a question that got him banned from a Monroe doughnut shop. "We were screamed at in front of the door, ‘he's not allowed in here, he's rude'," said Rebecca Denham as she described her experience at the Doughnut Inn on Tuesday morning. Denham said her son, Justin Otero, asked a woman at the doughnut shop if she had a baby in her belly. When the woman said ‘No' Otero apologized, and his mother said ...More >>
  • Inmate Gasped, Snorted During Two-Hour Execution In Execution

    Inmate Gasped, Snorted During Two-Hour Execution In Execution

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 9:47 PM EDT2014-07-24 01:47:25 GMT
    (NBC NEWS) -- An Arizona execution took nearly two hours on Wednesday, and witnesses said the inmate gasped and snorted for well over an hour after the lethal injection The execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood — which Arizona carried out with a two-drug combination it had never before tried — is certain to fan the debate over how U.S. states carry out the death penalty. "I've never witnessed an execution that took that long," defense lawyer Dale Baich told NBC News. "The state of Ari...More >>
    (NBC NEWS) -- An Arizona execution took nearly two hours on Wednesday, and witnesses said the inmate gasped and snorted for well over an hour after the lethal injection The execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood — which Arizona carried out with a two-drug combination it had never before tried — is certain to fan the debate over how U.S. states carry out the death penalty. "I've never witnessed an execution that took that long," defense lawyer Dale Baich told NBC News. "The state of Ari...More >>
Click for Local Doppler Radar
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KCEN. All Rights Reserved. Users of this site agree to the Terms of Service, Privacy Notice/Your California Privacy Rights, and Ad Choices.