Marketing manager Shawn Bonnough, Farm manager Jeff Smith and General Manager Barbara Bonnough are behind the new Aquaponics Training Institute. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)

Marketing manager Shawn Bonnough, Farm manager Jeff Smith and General Manager Barbara Bonnough are behind the new Aquaponics Training Institute. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)

The future of sustainable food is fishy

Aquaponics Training Institute officially launched last weekend in Vernon.

A new way to grow food has come to Vernon.

It’s called aquaponics and is the combination of aquaculture (breeding fish in captivity as a food source) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil).

Jeff Smith is the farm manager at the recently opened Aquaponics Training Institute in Vernon. He explained the process as a “match made in heaven.” In the symbiotic system, fish provide fertilizer for the plants, and the plants clean the water for the fish, eliminating water waste and making it the ultimate sustainable food source.

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Marketing manager Shawn Bonnough said that his ultimate goal is to show people how to minimize their ecological footprint by growing food at home throughout the year.

“We’re really just a small training company with a small local footprint and our doors are open to the local traffic, but we have a global solution to a problem that we’re all going to be facing in 8.3 years and we’re going to hit a tipping point,” said Bonnough.

Smith explained that the system uses less than one-tenth the amount of water in comparison to any other agricultural system. Very little waste is produced.

“There is no real waste to this system other than the evaporation. The fish are fed the appropriate ratio of food to produce the appropriate amount of food,” he said.

Bonnough hopes to be able to bring this science to small communities in northern Canada that don’t have food readily available based on distance to farmed food and weather conditions. Located at 4877 Haynes Rd., the institute is an indoor facility that will operate all year long.

“With a background in education, we formed the Aquaponics Training Institute to be able to take food security to our planet’s most vulnerable population and that’s usually Indigenous communities worldwide,” said Bonnough. “We’ve got a scalable worldwide solution to a worldwide problem. When you look at the economic impact to a community who is shipping vegetables 50 to 100 kilometres on average to get to their community, we can turn that around and create jobs and opportunity for fresh, nutritious vegetables and fish, that are both healthy when they’re combined.”

The first information session took place on March 30 and hosted about a dozen local hobbyists. From there, people can sign up for workshops on how to build their own system.

Those who are travelling to Vernon for courses are also able to stay at the accommodations on site.

For more details, visit the Aquaponics Training Institute website.

Related: Once-populous starfish disappearing due to warm water and disease

Related: Fish splashing around on road

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Aquaponics Training Institute officially launched last weekend. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)

Aquaponics Training Institute officially launched last weekend. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)