For centuries, native Hawaiians fed themselves by developing sophisticated systems of fishponds and irrigated taro patches. But societal changes disrupted their connection to traditional food sources, leading to high health risks for diabetes, obesity, and other diseases. Now a community intervention is underway in Waimānalo using backyard aquaponics.
Waimānalo resident Shelly Ortiz gives me a tour of her backyard aquaponics system. It's got two levels of plastic tubs connected by PVC pipes. On top are three grow beds filled with black cinder and starter veggies and below is the fishtank filled with baby tilapia.
“We feed them, and then they poop. And the poop gets uptake into grow beds,” said Ortiz. “And all that good nitrates that the fish provide will give all the nutrients into the plants to help them grow.”