The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

November 15, 2013

Aquaponics workshop will introduce a different type of gardening


HARRISBURG, Pa. — Judging from this week’s frigid temperatures in Tarboro, it’s not likely that folks are spending time outdoors or gardening these days. But what if growing fresh vegetables didn’t require spending time outside?

A workshop at 7 p.m. Friday at Saint Anne’s Chapel and Event Center will introduce people to a different type of farming/ gardening – aquaponics.

“There’s other kinds of ways to raise food year-round other than planting a garden,” said Kevin Wilson of Saint Anne’s Chapel.

Dr. Rachel Tinker-Kulberg, founder of Aquaponic Food4Thought, will lead the aquaponics workshop. Tinker-Kulberg is a molecular biologist by training, as well as an avid gardener and a healthy living advocate. The cost of the workshop is $25 and it includes a workbook.

“Aquaponics is an ecofriendly farming practice that is designed to produce fish and plants,” said Tinker-Kulberg. “It’s simply a recirculating aquaculture system, and it’s coupled to a hydroponic plant growing system.”

While it might sound complicated, the concept is simple, as Tinker-Kulberg will illustrate in Friday evening’s workshop. As Wilson said,

“If you have an aquarium at home, you’re halfway there.”

Aquaponics is an “ecologically sound” farming practice for many reasons, said Tinker-Kulberg. One reason is because no chemical fertilizers are used; the fish waste serves as a natural fertilizer for plant growth.

Tinker-Kulberg believes sustainable agricultural techniques such as aquaponics are important because they support local food production and promote “self-reliance.” She uses aquaponics as a learning tool, and plans to teach the innovative agricultural practice to Tabitha Hodges’ horticulture/ agriculture students at North East Carolina Prep School on Friday, while in Tarboro.

“It’s a really great teaching model for kids,” Tinker-Kulberg said. “It’s a more interesting way of doing the gardening. It gets them (children) really excited about it.”

On a micro scale, aquaponics can be an at-home hobby that parents can do with their children. On a larger level, aquaponics can be used as a commercial farming technique.

One of the main objectives of Tinker-Kulberg’s business “Aquaponic Food4Thought” is driving social innovation though education by bringing public awareness to healthy food choices and environmental sustainability.

Tinker-Kulberg believes that using environmentally friendly farming technologies like aquaponics will help protect the earth’s resources and provide healthy organic food locally to the community. She thinks large-scale urban food production will be crucial in the future and aquaponics will play an important role by creating a new “green” labor market for the community.

Those who wish to attend the workshop are asked to pre-register. To pre-register, contact Kevin Wilson at  HYPERLINK "" or 641-0262. Saint Anne’s Chapel is at the corner of Howard Avenue and McNair Road.