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How Your Pet Could Feed You

Aquaponics, an ancient gardening technique, is a sustainable, eco-friendly way to raise fish and grow food. 

The AquaFarm fish tank is a small-scale version of the same systems used in commercial aquaponics.

What's old is new again -- particularly when comes to the centuries-old science of aquaponics.

Although it may sound like a secret sonar project for the U.S. Military, aquaponics is actually an ancient holistic farming and gardening technique. It's a combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil), in which fish waste serves as an organic food source for growing plants -- and the plants, in turn, clean the water for the fish. Tiny microorganisms living on the plant roots act as a catalyst for this process, breaking down ammonia in the fish waste into nitrites and then into nitrates, which are an ideal food for plants.

The ancient Chinese and Aztecs recognized and adapted these natural cycles for farming 2,000 years ago by using nutrient-rich water containing fish waste to fertilize their crops. Now their technique is being adapted to grow food on a commercial scale, helping large farms produce millions of pounds of vegetables and fish. And it has the potential to make a huge environmental impact: Aquaponics uses 90 percent  less water than conventional farming methods, conserving a precious resource that is becoming scarcer each year. Aquaponics can also benefit the casual gardener (like you), as it eliminates daily weeding and watering chores.

Our AquaFarm takes the concept of aquaponics and shrinks it down into a mini ecosystem that's small enough to fit on your kitchen counter. The plants grow on top and keep the tank clean while the fish's waste fertilizes the plants. Interested in experimenting with this technique in your own abode? Learn more about the Back to the Roots AquaFarm –– everything you need is included in the kit.

Photography by: Chris Roche

Shop Back to the Roots

Grow your own dinner with the Back to the Roots Grow-at-Home Mushroom Kit. Just mist with water, and in 10 days you can harvest your own crop of oyster mushrooms. 

Buy the Mushroom Kit in the American Made Market, exclusively on eBay