Aquaponics – a “growing” field

In a class for young people through UH Maui College, Maui Hui Malama youth were introduced to an increasingly popular method of growing food, which may soon provide jobs and nutrition on Maui and beyond.

Aquaponics combines aquaculture – growing fish – with hydroponics – growing plants in water, without soil – to create a natural, self-sustaining system to produce food very efficiently. Water circulates throughout, carrying waste from aquatic animals (fish or crayfish) to feed the plants. The plants clean the water to sustain the fish.

Aquaponics expert Susan Miller taught the class, leading a field trip to a Waihe‘e lo‘i to collect crayfish, which are invasive and harm kalo. The crayfish were transferred to tanks in the aquaponics system, where lettuce is growing. In the classroom and greenhouse, students learned how the whole system works, how to build one, and what must be done to maintain it. Cleanliness is important to avoid contamination.

Photos show aspects from the classes in fall 2017 and spring 2018. This summer, UH Maui College will offer a Youth Aquapono class, and internships in the aquaponics greenhouse and Maui Food Innovation Center.

UHMC Youth Camp classes provide valuable opportunities for young people to explore possible career options. Maui Hui Malama is pleased to offer support to help you take advantage of them!