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Summerside Makerspace growing greens with aquaponics

The Summerside Makerspace has created an aquaponics system: a man made, closed-loop ecosystem, all to grow produce indoors.

'You can pretty much grow anything you want'

The Summerside Makerspace has developed an aquaponics system: a man made, closed-loop eco system that uses the nutrients from fish to grow produce. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

The Summerside Makerspace has created an aquaponics system: a man made, closed-loop ecosystem to grow produce indoors.

Stephen Howard, president of the Summerside Makerspace, said it all started with a single goal.

"One of the original motivations was to create the perfect climate and conditions that we could replicate to create the perfect strawberry," he said.

Over time, waste created by fish turn into nutrients that gets carried through pipes into planters. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

The idea grew from there to create a system that would get various members of the space involved.

Colin MacLean is a member of the Makerspace and said there are few plants you couldn't grow with aquaponics.

Stephen Howard, president of Summerside Makerspace, said the whole system has taken four months to create so far. He said the goal is to eventually have the system more automated. (Nicole Williams/CBC)
With the aquaponics system, the water is so rich in nutrients that plants don't need soil or sunlight to grow. Instead, members of the Makerspace have been using LED lights and Hydroton, expanded clay that allows for air and water to circulate, to help the plants grow. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"If you invest enough money into recreating nature you can pretty much grow anything you want," he said.

The system has taken several months to set up and Maclean said it hasn't been without its challenges.

Colin MacLean, a member of the Makerspace, said just about anything can be grown using the aquaponics system, but leafy greens work best. "They taste really good," said MacLean. (Nicole Williams/CBC)
Maclean said plants grown using the aquaponics system also typically grow faster than traditional gardening. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"You have to deal with water. A lot of it. You have to deal with fish and try and keep them alive, and then you have to deal with the plumbing in the system, because it is a cycle," said MacLean.

Howard said there are a few more adjustments before it's fully functional.

He said his goal is to someday have a system like this in his own home or even be able to donate the produce grown at the Makerspace to local food banks.

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