Last year, they donated 15 tons of produce. And a common fish will help them double that number.
Inside a giant black tank, nearly 2,000 tilapia swim in circles. By the end of the season, gardeners at Toledo's University Church hope to triple that number. It's a nearly closed circle, where the tilapia help to create crops, create compost, and eventually end up on the dinner plate.
"6,000 tilapia per year is a very conservative number," garden director Scott Delaney said.
University Church even picked up another tilapia greenhouse today.
"Right now the demand is greater than the supply," Delaney says of his fish.
Demand for fillets and flora. After shattering their donation goal for Food For Thought last year, they asked….
"What's the most we could possibly grow,?" Danny Wilson said. "And right now, we determined…"
"Producing 30,000 pounds of produce for people in our community," Delaney said.
When you double that with local farms help…
"We'll have a total of 60,000 pounds of food distributed to Toledo's in-need community," Wilson said. He's an Americorps VISTA worker.
To create that many crops takes water… lots of water for raising these water hyacinth, and then down the pipes for housing tilapia. Plus they have to filter out the waste, before it all starts again.
"We're hoping this year to get off of the water grid, off of the municipal water supply," Delaney said.
That's why these gardeners turned to crowd-funding. So far they've raised $2,500.
"Water is a huge tax on our property every year," Wilson said.
That campaign will help to add two wells on site at the church, plus boosting the irrigation system. The University Church links are on the right side of this story.