National Geographic Society

  • Connect:

Endless Food Systems: Fish-Powered Aquaponic Gardens

Endless Food System

Endless Food System (View larger version)

Published

On the third season of Doomsday Preppers, we follow Chad Hudspeth as he builds an underground escape tunnel. And while the 140-foot pipeline may be one of his biggest preps, it's certainly not his only one. Brooklyn Bagwell recently caught up with Chad at the Self-Reliance and Preparedness Expo in Prescott Valley, Arizona, where he was offering a line of aquaponics products from his company, Endless Food Systems. We asked Chad to tell us a little about aquaponics and why it is such a crucial prep to have.

Why Aquaponics?

When I first started prepping, I soon realized that storing up freeze dried foods is not only expensive, but not a great plan for long-term survival. If something devastating happened that changed our society forever, stockpiles will eventually run out no matter how much you have stored. It's a big investment to put so much money into something you hope you will never have to use.

When I came across an endless way to grow food called aquaponics, it revolutionized my way of thinking in terms of long-term survival. The benefits of an aquaponic Endless Food System are immediate, and will generate clean, non-GMO food for your family right away. Many people have also found eating natural and eliminating toxic pesticides and chemicals used in many of today's processed foods has strengthened their immune system.

An aquaponic garden is something that will benefit your family right away, and will also be crucial in the event of a long-term food crisis. Growing your own organic fruits and vegetables (and fish!) can save a lot of money on your grocery bill. And the best part, besides the fresh taste, is that you don't have to own acres of land. These systems are able to generate around five to ten times more food per square foot than a traditional garden. 

Aquaponic beds use 90% less water than a soil garden because the water is contained, and never has to be changed out. On top of that, growing vegetables in the elevated beds eliminates bending over and many traditional insect problems. Endless Food Systems are easy to operate and maintain, requiring only 5-10 minutes per day. I often get asked if the food tastes good. The truth is, once you've tasted vegetables grown the natural way in these systems, you'll never want to buy from the big box stores again. It is truly amazing how much better food tastes when it's allowed to ripen completely on the vine and grow without any chemicals. 

So How Does Aquaponics Work?

An Endless Food System combines fish and plants together in a natural, symbiotic way. The fish provide food for the plants, and the plants clean the water for the fish. A water pump constantly moves the water from a fish tank into gravel-filled grow beds full of vegetable plants. The only inputs needed are fish food and a very small amount of electricity (can be from a car battery & solar panel) to run the water pump and air pump. 

You can grow your own fish food, or even hang a hand-crank flashlight over the fish tank at night to attract bugs. The water and tanks never need to be cleaned. In fact, if you did, it could kill your beneficial microbes and bacteria that are doing all the work of converting the fish waste into plant food. The only thing that is really needed is a simple once-a-week brushing of the fish tank to stir up the sediment and send the fish waste up into the grow beds (where you want it). The idea of aquaponics is quite ancient, but has only recently been re-discovered. And while the overall concept is simple, designing and building a system can be quite complex.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly how much food an Endless Food System will produce, but in our experience, it is very possible for most families to drastically improve their food independence and health. As with anything, you generally get out what you put in, and an Endless Food System is no different. The better a system is managed, the more it will produce. We have found that a 12 foot wide by 20 foot long set up will generate around 1,200 pounds of vegetables and 50 to 80 pounds of fish per year. There are a lot of factors involved that could affect that number, such as your climate, type of plants and fish, and whether you are growing in a greenhouse that is climate controlled or in a basement.

For those in an urban environment without much space, we offer a compact indoor system, Eden. The peaceful sound of the constant water fountain cascading over the pebbles acts as both an accent piece, and functional aquaponics system for indoor growing.

From compact to full size kits that can be expanded all the way up to 128' of grow space, Endless Food Systems offer a wide array of products to suit many needs. As a general rule, a well-managed system will produce 10 pounds of vegetables per every square foot of grow space. A 300-gallon fish tank will produce 50 to 80 pounds of fish per year.

Interest in this growing technique is beginning to escalate quickly. At www.EndlessFoodSystems.com we have developed several out-of-the-box systems and a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) video and handbook. We believe if the knowledge of growing this way could spread across the globe, it may be possible to eliminate world hunger along with a multitude of diseases!

2 comments
Harriet G.
Harriet G.

Totally fascinating - I've been wanting to start an aquaponics project but am not sure how to start out.  So, I'm glad to find this content on nmy first visit to National Geographic.  But hang on a minute...  Is this an infomercial?  Only the "Endless Food Systems" approach is mentioned.

David Barbee
David Barbee

Product Update: Endless Food Systems has a new Tabletop Aquaponics system that is perfect for growing fresh organic herbs! See pictures and video on our website and online store: http://shop.endlessfoodsystems.com to learn more!