Provide Food Needs to Local Residents through O Grows
The College of Education seeks $14,000 on Tiger Giving Day 2019 for O Grows to build a portable aquaponics container. This container will be used in local schools to teach our communities about how to construct these kinds of ponds and use them for food and sustainability.
O Grows is a local food project, formed in partnership with K-12 school districts, the Food Bank of East Alabama, and Auburn University. With a mission to meet the food needs of every resident, Auburn students and faculty collaborate with other local volunteers to maintain and program a series of school gardens, community gardens, and farmer's markets.
Each year, we get hundreds of K-12 students and adults outside and into a garden or attending a local food event. They learn about their place in the food system and many gain skills in food production. Food insecure residents are supported through the donation of nearly a ton of produce annually, and we are able to promote commerce between small-scale local farmers and thousands of customers. To date, these outcomes have largely been pursued independent of each other.
Aquaponics is the joining of aquaculture and hydroponics in a recirculating system that provides for significantly greater food (fish and produce) production than traditional methods, while also requiring less space and water. The purpose of this project is to establish an aquaponic community farm as a vehicle to achieve shared value for students, food insecure residents, farmers, consumers, and small business owners.
The farm will be the first of its kind in the region to simultaneously (1) establish a site as a laboratory for experiential learning and workforce development for local K-12 students and AU pre-service teachers, (2) model best practices in sustainable agriculture to improve training and market access of local farmers, and (3) produce enough food to source a community food distribution site at O Grows’ headquarters, located in the most densely populated food desert in Lee County.
The proposed aquaponic system will produce approximately 600 lbs of tilapia and up to 10,000 harvestable produce plants per year. We are excited by the potential of the project and confident that O Grows existing capital and capacity supports its viability.
In support of Auburn University’s land grant mission, the aquaponic community farm will engage no less than six College of Education faculty members in community engaged scholarship and 60 undergraduate and graduate students in service-learning.