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Dec 29, 2017

A Greenhouse in Your Backyard: Couple Practices Hydroponics

Have you ever wanted to grow your own vegetables or herbs at home but haven’t been able to because you don’t have the space to do it? If so, hydroponic gardening could be the answer you’ve been looking for. It is a more sustainable approach to resource use than traditional farming. Hydroponics, simply put, is the soil-less growing of plants using mineral rich water. A couple in Lord’s Bank Village has set up a greenhouse in their backyard and has turned it into a thriving small business. They grow all kinds of plants with sustainable methods in a small space. News Five’s Andrea Polanco has the story:

 

Jimmi Jones, Owner & Co-Founder, JimSan Aquaponics Farm & Belizean Fresh

“I am not the kind of farmer that likes to be breaking my back. I like to work smart, hard too; but if I can minimize the hard work and still get the production, I would do that.”

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

And with rows and rows of fresh, leafy greens: vegetables and herbs from all types of lettuce to sweet basil –– all grown in water here inside this forty by fifty-two greenhouse  in a small backyard in Lord’s Bank Village – Jimmi Jones has managed to do just that. But this is not a traditional vegetable garden in the soil. It is an impressive set up of a hydroponic system – that uses water to grow these vegetables and herbs. It is the undertaking of thisenterprising husband and wife, Jimmi and Sandra Jones, started a few years ago.

 

Jimmi Jones

Jimmi Jones

“We have a hydroponic system. We are growing vertically now; horizontally we used to grow before but that was back breaking and as I mentioned, if I can avoid the backbreaking work I will do that. So, we have grown it vertically so that could get more production in the same space but in terms of labour it is easier to do. You will see that we grow Kale, we grow Arugula, Watercress, Lettuce – different types of lettuce, Sweet Basil, Swiss Chard, Collard Greens; pretty much any kind of leafy greens and lettuce we can grow here.”

 

Hydroponics has helped Jimmi to grow his produce faster than planting in soil would have allowed. This means that he can grow more produce in less time and in a smaller space. This helps with productivity and output. On any given day, there are four thousand plants inside this greenhouse.

 

Jimmi Jones

“If you use lettuce as an example, in my system, lettuce can grow from a seed. Actually sowing a seed on a particular day and harvesting it within six weeks of that date; some take a little longer, just the different variety of lettuce but I average about six maybe seven weeks. In the soil it could take a little bit longer all depending on how the plants are protected, what kind of nutrients they are getting and plants in the soil maybe take up to 8 or 9 weeks before they are harvestable. So, we save like a week or two, all depending. But in this particular type of system your productivity is much, much higher, plus you grow much more in a small space.”

 

And it re-uses about ninety percent of thewater whichhelps to make it a sustainable means of farming. But what is also good about growing produce – in this case the water used contains water soluble fertilizers for rich mineral nutrients– the plants absorb those nutrients easily.

 

Jimmi Jones

“We re-circulate or re-use the water. So like in traditional agriculture, you will soak the soil and the plants take up the nutrients but they can’t take up all of it. So, some of it just leaches away into the soil. But this particular system, it is a closed loop system, so it is constantly re-circulating. So, we use about ninety percent less water than traditional farming, so that way we are being very sustainable as well.”

 

Jimmi is also very mindful about the uses of pesticides and other chemicals inside his hydroponic farm. While it is almost impossible to escape the use of insecticides, he tries to find other less harmful solutions to eliminate pests and fungus. Butjust the set-up of his greenhouse alone helps to limit need for a lot of pesticides.

 

Jimmi Jones

“There are some that you can use like baking soda and what I call squeeze, the dish washing liquid. You mix that in certain proportions and you can use that as an insecticide, for pesticide and even sometimes as a fungicide. But, it is not harmful to us. So, yes, every farm will use different forms but what we try to do is use the least dangerous ones as possible.”

 

And when the plants transforms from these seedlings to these full size greens, Jimmi and Sandra harvest them. They are prepared, packaged, and sold off as Belizean Fresh brand to restaurants, some supermarkets, a few wholesalers and even locals in the area.

 

Jimmi Jones

“Support local farmers. Product that are produced in Belize. It really helps the economy and the farmers to stay in business. We try really hard to keep our prices affordable. We see some prices that are really crazy high but we try to be somewhere in the middle-ish so that the average person can afford it. So, just try to support local farming and support us at Belizean Fresh –  that is the brand you will see in the supermarkets.”

 

So, what’s next for this little hydroponic farm? The Jones’ hope to adopt green energy and use a new water set up which will see this already environmentally friendly farm reach new levels of sustainability. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “A Greenhouse in Your Backyard: Couple Practices Hydroponics”

  1. Teacher says:

    So healthy to get a ‘different’ healthy news piece, on so many levels!

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