Aquaponics team, Naomi Rosenberg, Gareth Coleman, Paulo Marini and Jeronimo Suaraez
Aquaponics team, Naomi Rosenberg, Gareth Coleman, Paulo Marini and Jeronimo Suaraez
Hands on experience of new food producing methods will put Todmorden at the forefront in a revolutionary movement. The launch of the Aqua Garden, which houses three different growing methods, aquaponics, hydroponics and soil growing, will allow students to compare and contrast the different methods of food production at the same time as developing the new technology behind aquaponics.

"This has been four years in the making," said Pam Warhurst, chair of the Incredible Edible Aqua Garden.
"We've overcome many challenges to get this far and now the Aqua Garden is a reality. But this is just the beginning.

Aquaponics water system
Aquaponics water system
"This Aqua Garden will link everything together, from growing food to cooking it. It will be one of the only places in the country where people can gain hands on experience of aquaponics. Gaining skills and confidence in growing more of our own food, using a number of different methods such as aquaponics, will become even more crucial in the future as our global food system is stretched.

"Aquaponics offers a useful tool in the battle to produce enough healthy food in a humane and sustainable way. It will also offer the young people of Todmorden the opportunity to build expertise and careers in the food industry."

Incredible Edible Aqua Garden in Todmorden received a grant of £544,785 from the Big Lottery Fund through Local Food grants for the building work, which was completed by Green Future Builders. Myles Bremner, the director of the School Food Plan and food writer Rosemary Moon, were the special guests at the launch event on Monday, November 11, which was attended by dozens of invited guests.

Aquaponics fish tank
Aquaponics fish tank
Hydroponics is a method of growing crops using mineral rich water without soil. In the Aqua Garden there will be a number of crops grown hydroponically, from tall tomatoes and beans to smaller herbs and salad crops. Aquaponics is a food production system that combines the rearing of fish with hydroponics in a closed self-sustaining system.

In the Aqua Garden aquaponics unit Tilapia fish will be reared in several tanks and their waste will be used to feed the plant crop water cress. As the mineral rich water feeds the crop of water cress it will be cleansed of ammonia, this cleaner and re-oxygenated water will then be re-circulated into the fish tank.

Situated on land behind Todmorden High School the Aqua Garden will enable students, both from the high school, and from around the world via an open source website, to compare and contrast data on the three different growing methods.

"Data will be collected on a variety of indicators, such as temperature, water pH levels, oxygen and mineral content via a range of sensors," explained Gareth Coleman, of Layer Zero Labs.
"I've volunteered my time to this exciting project because the data will be available to people around the world for research and will hopefully help others to build similar units."

Daniel Pinnington, student board member and Todmorden High School, Pam Warhurst and Mary Clear
Daniel Pinnington, student board member and Todmorden High School, Pam Warhurst and Mary Clear
Educational work through the Aqua Garden will form part of the BTEC in Agriculture and Horticulture on offer at Todmorden High School, currently being taken by 18 students. It will also form a wider role in the curriculum, from science to history, and maths to food technology, for students from schools across the north.

The Aqua Garden was officially opened by the Mayor of Todmorden, Coun Jayne Booth, who said:
"This project clearly highlights IET's innovation, creating new educational and career opportunities for young people whilst championing the sustainable food agenda. This is an inspirational project that I am sure will continue to grow."


Incredible Edible Aqua Garden is one of two social enterprises that have grown from Incredible Edible Todmorden (IET), a community-based organisation that emerged in response to concerns surrounding food production. IET has seen the growth of vegetable tourism in Todmorden and the adoption of its ideals by dozens of groups across the world.

Incredible Edible Aqua Garden Aquaponics as a method of food production that was practised in ancient Egypt and by the Aztecs but in its modern form has only been developed since the 1990s, mainly by researchers.


Photographs taken by Estelle Brown