October, 20, 2011
Colorado State University students eating in Durrell Dining Center can now experience the wonders of aquaponics produce in their salad bar.
CSU Housing and Dining Services began purchasing local lettuce and herbs earlier this month from Quatrix, a small aquaponics business in LaPorte, Colo., about five miles from campus.
Aquaponics combines hydroponics and aquaculture growing techniques to recirculate water from tilapia fish tanks to hydro beds growing lettuce and herbs and back again. The plants are fed nutrient rich water, provided by the fish tanks. As the plants feed they naturally provide a bio-filter that removes nearly 97 percent of the minerals from the water, allowing fresh water to be returned to the fish holding tanks. Beneficial bacteria in the system convert the ammonia into nitrogen, providing an all natural fertilizer for the plants. This closed-loop system conserves water and allows Quatrix to grow a head of lettuce in just eight weeks.
Quatrix operates this full growing cycle in a greenhouse for plants and an adjacent greenhouse for the fish tanks, where talipia are raised. Growing lettuce and herbs in this greenhouse system helps reduce pest issues and allows Quatrix to grow year-round, helping Housing & Dining Services fill the local food gap in the winter when local farms are unable to produce many crops.
“Quatrix does not use pesticides or herbicides in its operation, and we are excited to serve local and sustainable produce in our salad bar year round,” says Deon Lategan, director of residential dining at Colorado State.
Housing and Dining Services will initially purchase nine or ten cases a week of leaf lettuce, romaine, and basil with plans to expand purchases and investigate purchasing the tilapia fish in the future.
To learn more, contact Housing and Dining Services.