Aquaponics Comes to Buckner

Aug 18, 2016

What is Aquaponics and Why is it Coming to Buckner?    

Because of aquaponics and a man named Dre Taylor, a lot of excitement is building around bringing more jobs and a profitable community service to Buckner. The term “aquaponics” refers to an ancient practice that combines raising fish with growing plants without soil. The innovative system was dubbed “aquaponics” in the 1970s, and Taylor has a part in its revival in Missouri. This Buckner story is about how commerce grows as much as it is about the many benefits a community can enjoy with the addition of an aquaponics facility.

Where it All Started 
When news surfaced about aquaponics bringing jobs and a new food source to Kansas City, Steve Drake, assistant to State Rep. Bill E. Kidd of the 20th District of Missouri, took notice. Drake was aware that Kidd was seeking ways to boost the Buckner economy, and he contacted Taylor. A native of Kansas City, Taylor said involvement in this agricultural program comes naturally because his family has always been involved in gardening as well as farming. Taylor expressed his willingness to help Buckner with a program similar to the one in Kansas City, which really got the ball rolling. 

The next thing that happened was that Rep. Kidd met Taylor and took a first-hand look at Kansas City’s Nile Valley Aquaponics, which is located at 29th and Wabash. Kidd says he is very excited that what Taylor is doing with aquaponics creates jobs, provides food and offers many other economic benefits that are ideal for Buckner.

According to Drake, who has experience bringing people together for large-scale beneficial purposes, the involvement of Buckner Mayor Dan Hickson is  important. Buckner aquaponics is in the conception stage.  

So far, there hasn’t been a convening of the city’s Board of Aldermen, yet, to come to a consensus about officially endorsing the addition of aquaponics and being willing to sell one of the city’s pieces of real estate for that purpose. But Mayor Hickson is all in and believes the aldermen will be, too. After all, the aquaponics program will cost the city nothing and yet provides tremendous potential for economic growth.

In mid-July, a meeting about bringing aquaponics to Buckner was held at Tuscono’s Restaurant, located at 312 S. Hudson Street in Buckner. A great deal of excitement was stirred up among the two dozen people who attended.

“Aquaponics” refers to a system maintained in an integrated environment that ingeniously combines the two following components:
●    First, raising aquatic animals -- such as fish, crayfish, snails, and prawns -- in tanks or trenches; and
●    Second, hydroponics, which is cultivating plants in water, without soil. 

Aquaponics systems are incredibly eco-friendly, and they mimic all-natural processes that take place in lakes, rivers, ponds, and waterways across the world. Here is a general overview of the way Taylor’s aquaponics system in Kansas City works: 

Tilapia fish live in trenches. They produce waste that is converted into nutrients. Chemical-free above-ground plants are supplied with the nutrient-rich water, using pumps. The water is filtered by both the plants and a layer of gravel and then is returned to the trenches. Larvae are dropped into the fish food supply with a layer of food compost that attracts flies. The Kansas City aquaponics property consists of a half-acre. It has a greenhouse that is 30 feet by 150 feet, where the system operates. 

How Will Aquaponics Benefit Buckner?
Everyone with a hand in bringing aquaponics to Buckner is excited about the many contributions it will make to the community. Perhaps first and foremost, it will bring five to seven full-time jobs to Buckner, along with some part-time positions. The city government as well as Rep. Kidd are aggressively seeking to attract jobs to Buckner, and all that aquaponics offers fits in perfectly.

Fresh fish and fresh vegetables will be available in abundance. The potential for providing education to the community is tremendous. Children from schools in Lafayette County can be bused in, for hands-on activities and to see the operation at work. 

The aquaponics facility in Kansas City, for example, has become a place for learning about how to raise fish and plants. The same will be true for Buckner. Transportation of the fish and produce will be involved, including deliveries to restaurants. Tax dollars will be generated, and the community could attract more prime businesses and jobs, as a result of economic growth.

Kidd believes that the upcoming successful operation of aquaponics in Buckner could lead to international as well as local exposure. He is confident that people far beyond Buckner’s city limits will take interest and visit because aquaponics is a great tourist attraction.

How Will Buckner Aquaponics be Funded?
Sources say the needed investment for the Buckner aquaponics facility is approximately $150,000. Research shows that the potential earning opportunity is between a half-million to $1 million annually. Determining a location is currently in the works. 

Considerations for where to build the project include the various properties owned by the city and various farms, in which case the farmer involved would take a percentage of the profits. Permits and zoning issues will be properly handled and blueprints will be prepared.

Once everything is mapped out and a complete, viable project plan is in place, investors will be sought and grants applications will be submitted. Everyone involved is confident that there will be no problem finding the needed funding for aquaponics in Buckner. 

The Buckner Clarion will continue to follow this story and provide updates as the program develops.

About the Writer

Stephanie McHugh

Contributing Writer

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