Wild Food has become more popular in recent years and we think it is about time we started to cultivate some of these fabulous ingredients. Join us and help set up the Wild Food Aquagarden to grow wild herbs and salads sustainably using aquaponic technology and UK river fish.
Chris and Rose Bax set up Taste the Wild 8 years ago to teach people about foraging and cooking wild food. They both work full time for the business which has been profitable and has shown growth since day 1. Courses book up well in advance and over 3000 people have experienced ‘Taste the Wild’.
The company has become one of the UK’s leading authorities on wild edibles, having been asked to advise on such programmes as C4’s ‘The Wild Gourmets’ and regularly featured on BBC 'Countryfile'. Other media has included BBC 'Blue Peter', NBC news and features in the Guardian.
Most of the courses are run from their own 18 acres of land in the North of England, but expanding the business has meant also running coastal and urban courses. www.tastethewild.co.uk
To grow wild food in an Aquaponic garden. We need your help to get the project off the ground.
Aquaponics is a way of growing plants by feeding them with waste water from fish in a sustainable closed system. We want to be the first to do this with wild edible plants and fish. Our plan is to set up and run an aqua garden and supply local restaurants with wild produce. We will also run courses to teach people how to grow using aquaponics. Our core customers are intelligent, environmentally aware people who love nature, food and doing things … Like us!
We plan to build a fully integrated aquaponics system using solar energy and rainwater. It will be housed in a polytunnel on an area of uncultivated field by the entrance to our wood.
This soil-less way of growing is incredibly environmentally friendly, it uses only a tenth of the water per day compared with conventional growing. We will collect rain water from the roof of the polytunnel to use for all the Aquagardens’ needs. Solar energy will be stored to power the pump and electronic controls.
We will initially grow wild salads and herbs moving on to wild root crops as our experience allows. To feed the plants, nutrient rich water is pumped to the growing beds from the fish tank. The plants’ root systems take up the nutrients, the water is then cleaned by friendly bacteria in the grow beds and returned to the fish tank. The PH. and nutrient levels will be monitored to achieve optimum fish and plant health.
Our choice of fish - Perch, are gregarious by nature and live happily in a tank. The maximum recommended stocking levels are 1 fish to 10 litres of water. We will stock a 1000 gallon tank at a lower density than this to give the fish plenty of room to swim. The fish’s welfare will be monitored daily to maintain the highest standards. Perch are not often seen on menus but are a great tasting fish, (they have tough scales, so need a good descaling tool) when they reach pan size they will be eaten along with the other wild-farmed plants
Annual wild salads and herbs will be grown in raised grow beds in the centre of the polytunnel and larger Biennial root crops and small fruiting shrubs will be grown along the sides. We also plan to use vertical growing pockets to maximise the use of space. This wealth of wild edibles will give us even more possibilities to feed and inspire people. The wild plants grown in this system will have natural flavour and character but no pollutants from passing vehicles or possible chemicals in the ground. The quality of the plants will be assured as they are not at risk from extremes of weather or being eaten by animals. This makes for reliably saleable products for the catering industry and for Taste the Wild’s customers. People can relax in the knowledge that no plant material is being taken from the countryside making these the ultimate in sustainable wild foods.
Because we are new to aquaponics on this scale we’re partnering with the Aquaponics Lab (Manchester) for the design and technical support of the live system. The Aquaponics Lab are consultants to some of the best aquaponics systems in the UK and are at the fore front of research and development in this field. – They are the experts! They are an ‘open source’ ‘not for profit’ organisation whose aim is to help the world through technical innovations. Our collaboration means the sharing of information from the design and set up to growth rates and density of plants. This ‘off grid’ growing of shade tolerant plant crops could have important worldwide applications for growing using minimum power.
We want to inspire people and teach them how to set up their own Aquaponic garden, in a garage or a basement, large scale enterprise or a little fish tank, it’s much the same. This kind of gardening is easy once the process is understood and the system set up. It can sustainably produce healthy, nutritious food all year round whether you’re growing wild or cultivated plants. Our other goal is to grow wild food plants to feed to clients and sell to local businesses. We think it is time the world looked at food production and the environment together, hopefully with your support we can do our little bit. Please have a look at the rewards and see if there is a way you can join with us to create our goal.
The information learned from the ‘Off Grid’ set up and growing of shade tolerant plants could be valuable in places where there is little water and no electricity. The fact that we are not heating the fish tanks or using lights for the plants means that we need very little power! …and this system uses just 10% of the water used in conventional growing. All the knowledge developed on this project will be freely available on the internet to promote sustainable food production for all.
We need to raise £21,250 of funding to set up the Wild Food Aqua garden. We dearly hope you can join us to help make this plan a reality.
Thanks ever so much to Martyna at http://incredibleaquagarden.co.uk/ for help and inspiration, To Martin at http://www.red90.co.uk/ for putting together our video and Paulo and the guys at the http://aquaponicslab.org/ for agreeing to partner us in our endeavour. to First Tunnels for use of your illustration and to Sunconomy for use of your solar panel photo.