Aquaponics At Bella Vita Farm
At Bella Vita Farm we have one of the largest aquaponics operations in Maryland. It includes four 500 gallon tanks supporting 50 koi and 100 tilapia per tank connected with a 6000 gallon deep water culture hydroponics system capable of producing 1000 heads of lettuce per week. We use organically grown principles to grow our produce which includes lettuce, kale, microgreens, basil, parsley and other leafy vegetables.
Our Aquaponics greenhouse is a year round operation providing fresh greens and vegetables to our local community. We are proud to be partnered with local restaurants to help grow their menu. Aquaponics is the farming practice that grows fish and greens together. The fish tanks with koi and tilapia line the north wall of the greenhouse supplying nutrients to the eight 40 feet long deep water culture beds. In the center is a plant deck and nursery where the plants get the initial start. The nutrient rich water that flows through the aquaculture allowing us to grow beautiful lettuces, microgreens, kale, basil, culinary herbs and other vegetables.
We use only organic practices and non synthetic treatments on our plants such as insecticidal soap and lady bugs for pest management. Here at Bella Vita Farm we are committed to bringing quality produce to the community while also providing educational opportunities to the public about our farming practices. From planting to harvest only four hands have touched the plants. Knowing where your food comes from is important. Lettuces and greens that have traveled only a few miles to your plate means it is Bella Vita FRESH!
What exactly is aquaponics?
Aquaponics is an integrated system which includes two main elements and mimics mother nature.
- Aquaculture sub-system, consisting of fish or other animal aquatic cultures.
- Hydroponic sub-system, consisting of hydroponically-grown plants (growing plants in a soil-less medium).
These two components connect through the water medium which cycles between them.
Water containing the fish waste produces ammonia which is then converted to nitrogen by beneficial bacteria and microorganisms. The plants utilize nutrients needed for their growth. In return, the plants take up excess nitrogen, and purifies water which goes back into the tank.
Advantages of aquaponics
- Aquaponics relies on the recycling of nutrient-rich water continuously. In aquaponics, there is no toxic run-off from either hydroponics or aquaculture.
- Aquaponics uses 1/10th of the water of soil-based gardening and even less water than hydroponics or recirculating aquaculture.
- It’s a natural ecosystem.
- No harmful pesticides, petrochemicals or herbicides can be used. (it would kill the fish)
- Instead of using dirt and toxic chemical solutions to grow plants, aquaponics uses highly nutritious fish effluent (affectionately called fish poop) that contains all the essential nutrients for optimal plant growth.
- Aquaponics uses the plants, naturally occurring bacteria, and the water media in which they grow to clean and purify the water.
- The water is reused indefinitely only needing to be topped-off when it is lost through transpiration from the plants and evaporation.