Marine Education Initiative
Nick Metropulos with the Marine Education Initiative reached out to The Aquaponic Source in October of 2020 with a plan to establish an Aquaponics Food Security and Education Program as part of his non-profit. Based in Boca Raton, Florida, the Marine Education Initiative teaches children to be good stewards of the ocean, along with the importance of local and sustainable food production through aquaponic farming.
This unique non-profit project began with a plan to produce as many fish and plants as possible, utilizing vertical farming methods to maximize floor space. The aquaponic system was designed into a warehouse building in order to provide climate control during hot Florida summers along with protection from the elements during hurricane season.
The aquaponic farm consists of a custom-designed 500 gallon recirculating aquaculture system paired with a 4’x32’ Growasis Double Decker deep water culture system. The aquaponic farm was built with the ability to operate as a coupled aquaponic system or as a decoupled aquaculture/hydroponic system for biosecurity and nutrient management reasons. An aerobic mineralization system was added to digest waste produced by the fish before being introduced back into the hydroponic system, creating a truly zero-waste system where nothing is ever discharged down the drain. A Growasis 4-Tier Nursery and Microgreen system was also added for seed starting and the production of microgreens.
Due to its indoor location, an artificial lighting system was designed and installed to provide the plants with optimal growing conditions year-round. ARC 600 full-spectrum LED lights mounted to robotic light moving systems slowly moves the lights back and forth across the upper tier of the Growasis Double Decker. On the bottom tier, powerful full-spectrum Thrive Infinity lights provide complete lighting coverage to the plants in a very compact footprint.
The Marine Education Initiative is currently donating all food produced from the aquaponic system to local soup kitchens and food banks. Nick says that they plan on feeding thousands of people per year with produce and fish grown in the aquaponic system.