New Boston resident Mike Griffin decided a few years ago to try to use a small goldfish pond in his yard to grow some vegetables.
Griffin, who had decades of experience in the construction industry, built a greenhouse with gravity pipes that carried nutrient-rich water from the pond.
Plants were placed in holes on top of the pipes with their roots stretching down into the water where they were able to feed on the continual stream of fish waste. The piping system then carried clean water back to the pond.
The process of combining aquaculture with agricultural is called aquaponics, and Griffin said it’s nothing new.
“The Mayans used to have rafts where they grew plants in the ponds where they fished,” said Griffin.
What worked for the Mayans in Mexico has also worked for Griffin in New Boston. Today, he and his wife, Tracey, run Aquaponics Unlimited and grow enough produce for several restaurants, stores and their local farmers market.
“The plants grow faster, they are tastier and you never have to weed or water,” said Griffin, who has added two large tilapia tanks to the system and plans to soon start selling fresh fish.
Griffin will share his experiences with aquaponics on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Nashua’s Science Café, a free and informal community discussion group that meets at Killarney’s Irish Pub on Northeastern Boulevard.
The cafe connects the public with panels of experts in a wide range of scientific fields, and raises interest and awareness about science-related trends and topics.
Science cafes got their start in Europe and are now spreading across the United States. Sarah Eck, a biochemist from Hopkinton, and Brookline resident and tech industry veteran Dan Marcek started a local network of science cafes, that includes groups in Portsmouth and Loudon.
Since 2011, residents have had the chance to hear from state public health officials, faculty from Dartmouth College and the University of New Hampshire, advanced tech business leaders and other professionals who lead discussions on scientific topics that are important to New Hampshire.
In addition to Griffin, Wednesday’s panel will also include Anthony Eugenio, CEO of Plaistow-based Green Harvest Hydroponics, which specializes in commercial and residential gardening equipment, including supplies for aquaponics.
Jessica Normand, a biology major at UNH, will also share some of her research on ways to apply aquaponics in the Northeast.
In addition to conserving resources such as water and soil, Griffin believes that aquaponics will be part of the solution to the global food shortage that scientists and economists say is looming.
“It’s an ancient technology that is really simple,” he said. “But there’s so much good to it.”