This week’s Spotlight on Sustainability features Blue Roots Farm, a farm in the heart of Cowichan Valley that set out to create a strong and independent food system in the region. Five years ago, Dan Adelman and Courtney Edwards decided to address the problems they saw in global food production and aquaculture industry.

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“The problems we are looking to solve with Blue Roots came from things we’ve complained about for years,” says Adelman. “We saw what was wrong and decided to try and fix it.” The two broke ground at Blue Roots Farm in March 2016 with an aquaponics system of farming. “This is a system that you get both your protein source and your produce source from, essentially it is all ends of the dinner plate from one system,” he says.

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The aquaponics system is highly sustainable and productive. It operates year round growing herbs, greens, and steelhead trout. Once the farm is operating at full production it will be able to produce 2,000 pounds of herbs and 1,500 pounds of steelhead trout every month. The cycle used in the aquaponics greenhouse is modelled after natural processes. Water from the fish tanks is cycled down through the plant roots where they extract nutrients to grow. The plants act as a natural bio filter and the clean water is funneled back into the fish tanks. This form of growing allows pants and fish to reach their full potential without overcrowding. It produces zero waste and is so efficient that the only water lost is from evaporation. Follow this link to learn more about filtration types.

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All the produce and herbs grown in the greenhouse are harvested and delivered on the same day in order to preserve their nutritional quality. The aquaponics system ensures that the plants are never thirsty, hungry or stressed, avoiding the problems of conventional greenhouses. Similarly, the steelhead trout grown are raised in quality environments with a diet as natural as possible. The fish raised at Blue Roots grow at a natural rate in low density tanks, this produces healthy fish that are farmed ethically.

Dan and Courtney hope that Blue Roots will serve as a sustainable solution in addressing issues of food security, climate change and aquaculture. “We want to address these problems by having the smallest footprint possible with the highest production,” says Adelman.

-Shayna Kuffert