The glistening blue and silver scales of tilapia fish aren’t just for show. “It’s how they communicate with each other,” explains Colin Cotton.
Those details are among the many fascinating facts Cotton shares during a tour of the Mississauga Food Bank’s newly expanded aquaponics operation at its warehouse near Highway 427 and Dundas St. E.
Photo credit: AquaGrow Farm
The food bank, which supports more than 200,000 visits a year, was the first in Canada in 2016 to combine fish farming with hydroponic gardening to produce fresh tilapia, bok choy, romaine lettuce and spinach for hungry residents.
The food bank’s AquaGrow Farms operation, which takes up just 800 sq. ft. in the agency’s warehouse, is so efficient it almost runs itself. Waste water from the fish fertilizes the produce as the liquid is pumped through hydroponic growing beds. As the plants absorb the nutrients, the water is cleaned naturally and recycled back into the tanks where the process begins again.