Feeding the 5000, as originally envisioned, includes building off-grid aquaponic greenhouses for churches and neighborhood nonprofits to run. This community-scaled model offers a unique approach to local sustainable food production and the potential to make fresh fish and 100% naturally grown food available to food insecure households, 365 days-a-year.
Three Foundations for Healthy Development and Lifelong Health
Food insecurity, especially for children, is a serious problem. Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child includes childhood nutrition as one of three foundations necessary for healthy development and lifelong health. These three foundations include:
1. Stable, responsive relationships;
2. Safe, supportive environments; and
3. Appropriate nutrition.
WASI's Feeding the 5000 program meets the third foundation of appropriate nutrition head on and can positively impact the other two, here's how.
Feeding the 5000 Community Partners
Churches and neighborhood focused nonprofits are well positioned to encourage community building through neighborhood-wide participation in the food-raising process. Expanding upon the Feeding the 5000 program to offer a community garden, onsite food preparation, do-it-yourself cooking classes, adding other suitable urban livestock options, etc. creates a place to gather to learn and interact around life-giving healthy activities.
To assure excellent greenhouse operations management, WASI's Feeding the 5000 program includes providing organization-selected Greenhouse Managers with high-quality training through Growing Power's Commercial Urban Agriculture Training Program.
Catalyst for a Community-Based Food System
Feeding the 5000 can also be viewed as a catalyst to help the Wichita area "scale up" to build a community-based food system as envisioned and defined by Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power and like resources. In this BookTV video, "The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities" Will Allen describes within eight minutes what a multi-generational, multi-cultural food system looks like (15:00 - 22:46), click here to view the video.
Why Aquaponics for WASI's Feeding the 5000 program?
The sustainable attributes of aquaponics makes it an ideal urban agriculture solution. Plants grown aquaponically can be grown closer together because nutrients are delivered directly to each plant's root system. In addition, aquaponics requires approximately 90% less water than soil-based agriculture. Add this to an "off-grid" greenhouse structure, you are producing highly nutritious natural food that collapses energy, transportation, processing and storage costs, while at the same time building neighborhood connections and bonds.
Aquaponics is a food production system that integrates aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants in water) where fish and plants are raised symbiotically in a biologically balanced, closed eco-system. Fish waste with the help of nitrifying bacteria feed the plants, the plants filter the water that goes back to the fish which means the same body of water is used to continually raise food.
Working together to create such a resource is an excellent way to reduce food insecurity especially for growing children. With childhood nutrition being one of three foundations needed for healthy development and lifelong health, what are we waiting for? Let's go!