Production and Consumption of Homegrown Produce and Fish by Noncommercial Aquaponics Gardeners
Keywords:Gardening, Garden, Homegrown, Fish, Health, Aquaculture, Aquaponics, Food Security, Tilapia
AbstractAquaponics is the integration of hydroponics and aquaculture into a single food production system. The aims of this paper are to describe production practices and costs among noncommercial aquaponics gardeners, and identify factors related to homegrown food consumption using a survey. The sample size was 399 respondents from 24 countries. The median aquaponics system was 350 gallons (1,325 liters) in volume, 100 square feet (9 square meters) in size, and cost respondents US$500 to US$999 annually. Respondents consumed homegrown aquaponics plants far more often than they consumed fish. The primary factors that affected weekly homegrown plant consumption were location in warm climates, which allows for a longer growing season and likely lower input costs; an interest in improving diet; size of aquaponics garden; and years of experience. Respondents with high school or less education consumed homegrown fish and crops more often than those with college or graduate education, indicating that aquaponics may contribute to community food security at the household level for these individuals. Noncommercial aquaponics gardens have significantly higher yearly costs compared to soil-based gardens, so the participants who are attracted to aquaponics (typically middle-aged men with high levels of education) may not be food insecure, which weakens the case for aquaponics as a means of improving food security. Based on our findings, further research on this topic and other work to expand aquaponics to improve community food security should focus on low-cost yet productive aquaponics systems in warm climate regions and among more diverse populations.
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