Ashley and Ronnie Steed are a couple of pioneers when it comes to food production in a semi-arid environment.
They have spent the best part of the last decade or more perfecting their veggie patch, orchard and most recently; their aquaponics set up. Not only are they supplying their own healthy and delicious food from their 50x50m residential mineral claim on the opalfields at Lightning Ridge, but they are now also growing fish for their table – proving just about anything is possible if you create the intention and manage your conditions.
Ronnie and Ashley have a well established orchard that incredibly includes mango, peaches, apples, grapes and paw paws and their garden, before aquaponics was always full of seasonal produce, grown directly into well managed soil.
A couple of years ago they began experimenting with aquaponics and using mainly re-used material, set up a double tank system that now houses a few hundred fish.
What has grown is abundance in the back yard. The system is all solar powered and fed by rain water (supplemented by bore water during very dry times), as Ronnie and Ashley do not have access to mains water or power on the opalfields.
They have had great success growing everything from carrots and beetroot to corn, beans, tomatoes and leafy greens.
Ashley and Ronnie have used old tractor tyres, rescued tanks, recycled (and well washed) chemical containers and old pumps. Basically the only new components to this system are the pipes and the fish!
They use cumborah gravel as the growing medium, in prevalent supply around the Ridge and when I asked Ashley how he planted the seeds he just made a throwing motion with his hands indicating he just threw them on the top of the gravel and they grew.
Seriously blew my mind!
If you want to learn how to do this in your own backyard – check out the Aquaponics Workshop being held in May