Aquaponics incorporates aquaculture (growing fish) and hydroponics (growing plants on water). At the Kona campus we have a commercial aquaponics unit and we also have several smaller media bed units.
Both types of aquaponics can be built at multiple scales and costs. Since water is recirculated, aquaponics uses less water than soil-based agriculture, it takes less space (plants are grown close together), it does not need soil, and aquaponics produces vegetables and fish at the same time. However, leafy green vegetables are the primary types of food grown (see below), and aquaponics usually requires some electricity for a water and air pump. We, and others, are experimenting with ways of using aquaponics in areas without electricity, but this approach is still in the development stage.
Sometimes aquaculture without the plants is an appropriate community technology and our student missionaries are learning to raise tilapia (a common warm water species around the world), so that they can share that knowledge when they go to places where is the best way to help people grown their own food.
The main crops grown in our units are lettuce and oinions that are donated to the YWAM base kitchen, which feeds more than 600 people daily.