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Aquaponics: Harvesting Food, Creating Synergy

By Office of Communication Services    Published on 05/04/2010 More stories >>


Clyde Tamaru is excited about the growing interest in aquaponics.

Systems of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil) can be traced to ancient times and are familiar to most people. When combined, the two systems form aquaponics, another ancient system previously less familiar in the United States but currently the fastest growing form of U.S. agriculture.

Central to CTAHR’s aquaponics outreach effort is aquaculture specialist Clyde Tamaru (MBBE), who is always reluctant to accept praise but is quick to acknowledge the many faculty, students, staff, and administrators who have supported his many projects. Tamaru admits that beyond the actual food harvested from this innovative, integrated technology, he is more excited about how aquaponics creates synergy among unlikely collaborators. His diverse list of community partners spans the local landscape, from the Hawai‘i State Hospital (HSH), to the Waimanalo Homestead Association, to McKinley High School, Windward Community College, and a local church, just to name a few. Aquaponics technology is being used not only for producing food but also for patient therapy, perpetuating cultural practices, science education, and community building.

As Tiffany Kawaguchi, director of psychological rehabilitation at HSH, writes, “The aquaponic systems, although still in the ‘development stage,’ have had a transformative impact on our patient and staff populations alike.” Tiffany goes on to say that “In looking at this project in the grand scheme of things, this collaborative venture with UH CTAHR, Waimanalo Feed Supply, Cedar Church, Department of Hawaiian Homelands, and Hawai‘i State Hospital represents the beginning stages of building a genuine ‘community’ ”—a powerful statement of what can result from selfless service and respectful collaboration.

Tamaru’s enthusiasm is infectious as he describes his public-private partnerships as “fun and exciting stuff, and clearly what CTAHR is all about.” Not surprisingly, Tamaru proudly credits his communication and facilitative skills to CTAHR’s Agricultural Leadership Training Program, led by Donna Ching.

For more on CTAHR’s work in aquaponics, aquaculture, and hydroponics, see CTAHR Research News

View CTAHR publications on aquaponics,
Small-Scale Lettuce Production with Hydroponics or Aquaponics
On-Farm Food Safety: Aquaponics

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