Aquaponics Harvest

Intern Jackson Pittman harvests basil, center, dill, top right and left, and lettuce, bottom right, from the aquaponics tank.
Temperatures outside may be dropping, but we're enjoying permanent summer inside Better Farm's aquaponics setup.

With our grow light going strong 12 hours a day, and rotating our bumper crop of lettuces and herbs, we've got daily pickings of fresh dill, basil, and a variety of salad greens. On average, we're saving $10 each week in organic lettuce, a myriad of sprouts (clover, alfalfa, brassica blend, sunflower, and more), fresh basil, dill, and oregano, and more. With our total cost of setup (grow light, tank, filters, gravel, fish, and fish food) topping out around $400, that means we're still about 20 weeks out from breaking evenβ€”and after that, it's basically like having $10 extra in our Better Farm pocket each week. As far as investments go, we consider that a great return. Our grow light uses a high-efficiency fluorescent bulb, costing us just a few dollars each month.

Money aside, nothing compares to fresh greens year-round. Check out that bounty:

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Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.