Combining aquaculture and hydroponics into one integrated system to grow healthy produce in a natural and environmentally-friendly manner
It all starts with our sustainably sourced tilapia. They arrive at our facility weighing less than a gram (that is the size of your pinky nail!)
So how are they related to the plants? Well as with any animal, tilapia eat and create waste. As their tanks are regularly cleaned, the waste-water goes through a multiple filtration process that removes everything down to the micron-level, leaving only pure water and the nutrients from the fish.
The solid waste is sustainably used to create compost while the clean, filtered, nutrient-rich water flows into our greenhouses to grow our different crop varieties from all around the world.
Once the tilapia reach 2lbs, they are harvested and placed into a purge tank for 3 days before selling them. This allows their system and GI tract to be completely cleaned, allowing for the most fresh and flavorsome fish possible.
After the purge tank, our tilapia are delivered to our exclusive partner in Homewood, Al who features them in her restaurant and market.
The clean, nutrient-rich water from our tilapia then travels from our fish facility into our two state-of-the-art greenhouses.
In the same way that cow manure makes an excellent fertilizer, our nutrient-rich water is loaded with everything plants need to grow and thrive, but without any of the risks of contamination due to strict quality control and intensive filtration processes.
Once the nutrient-rich water enters one of the greenhouses, it flows into our multiple raft-tanks where our plants are happily awaiting.
The crops are planted into holes in our custom designed rafts, which float in the raft tanks and have plants staged from youngest to oldest. Since all of the nutrients our plants need is in the water, we are able to grow without the use of soil or any other chemical fertilizers.
And since the system recirculates and we are indoors, water is conserved and only used via plant transpiration, evaporation, or through cleaning usage.
By combining technology with our greenhouses, we keep the temperature and sunlight just where our plants like them to ensure the perfect growing environment.
As our plants grow, they are protected from the outside elements to ensure they stay as clean and natural as the day they were planted.
For the small handful of bad bugs that inevitably get past our first line of defense? (we are talking about you, evil thrip and aphids) They are met by an army of good, beneficial insects that we employ to ensure our crops remain undamaged and in top quality.
When ready for harvest, the rafts with the plants are removed and taken into our harvest area. The crops are harvested, washed, inspected and then cleared to enter our packaging facility.
From there, our fresh and nutritious crops are packed up and sent to their final destination, whether that is a restaurant, church, ministry or grocery store.
Are our crops certified organic? No. While we do not utilize any pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and follow protocols we consider “beyond organic”, the organic standards for hydroponics & aquaponics seem to be in flux for the time-being. We are however huge fans and supporters of our organic friends and have expansion plans which include more traditional organic farming which we hope to have certified organic.
In the meantime, we will continue to go above and beyond to meet and exceed standards so that our quality remains unrivaled. With Southern Organics, you can trust that we will always provide healthy, better-tasting, chemical and pesticide-free produce for our families and fellow Alabamians to enjoy, grown in the most sustainable and ecologically-responsible manner possible.