Aquaponics farm planned at Zionsville United Methodist Church

An aquaponics farm uses a fish tank to help grow plants. (submitted photo)
An aquaponics farm uses a fish tank to help grow plants. (submitted photo)

By Kelsey Ligon

Abigail Danner grows fruits and vegetables in her backyard using a fish tank, and this spring she’s building a farm with six fish tanks at Zionsville United Methodist Church to help provide low-income families with a healthier option.

Currently, Zionsville Presbyterian Church has a food pantry that offers several healthy food choices, but Danner wants to supplement those with locally grown, organic vegetables like peas, spinach and lettuce.

“People say, ‘Well, why don’t [low-income families] just buy healthy food?’” Danner said.  “It’s because it’s expensive.”

Danner and her brother, Greg Tucker, believe the solution is an aquaponics farm, which essentially grows fish to create fertilizer, which then grows plants that purify the water for the fish.  Danner expects the Aquaponics farms to be an efficient solution for growing more affordable local food.

An aquaponics farm uses a fish tank that is connected to a grow bed, where the plants are. These farms are self-sustaining because the fish are continuously reproducing and fertilizing the plant seeds.

“It’s kind of revolutionary and not at the same time,” Danner said.

Having started out in Australia, aquaponics farms have since become popular in India and countries in Africa where climates are very arid.

They have also popped up in other urban areas of Indiana such as East Chicago and Bloomington.  Danner’s goal is to bring aquaponics to rural settings in Indiana, making Boone County an ideal jumping off point.

Danner wants to use garden plots behind ZUMC to build her fish tanks.  She plans to stagger the planting periods to have vegetables growing all the time.

After four months of fundraising, Danner will be ready to start building the farm in the spring.  She is looking for scouts and students that are in need of community service time to help make this farm a reality.

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