These yuppies are proud urban farmers

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Urban Cebu is comprised of thousands of closely built homes, vast malls, industrial parks, and little concrete spaces making it difficult for a family to start their own backyard garden.

But young professionals Ellezerdo Sarsalejo and Kitz Saberon are happy urban farmers.

They are not only farming edible plants but they are growing freshwater fish in their homes.

Sarsalejo, who is working in an electronics company in Lapu-Lapu City was renting a bungalow in a low cost subdivision in the city. With no land to till in his concrete backyard he started his own aquaponic farm, a system which is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics.

The 35-year old electronics engineer put up his structure which utilizes used plastic barrels, lumber, PVC pipes, plastic cups and bag of gravel.

“I always wanted to have a farm but since I am just renting and as you can see I don’t have much land, I am designing it in such a way I can make use of the space,” Sarsalejo said as he showed his system to Cebu Daily News.

Aquaponics is a method of food production where fish and vegetables are grown by harnessing the symbiotic relationship of the two.

The water from the fish tank contains fish waste which is rich in nitrate. It is then pumped to the vegetable grow beds for the plants’ consumption. As the water flows, the plants’ root filter and purify it before it goes back to the fish tank and start another cycle.

“In aquaponics you are trying to make a natural ecosystem except that there is a mechanical input for the water cycle,” Saberon explained.

Saberon used to have a crude system but he decided to improve it and asked someone to do the masonry of his concrete pond and plant tray.

To start an aquaponics system you need sunlight, a fish tank, plant trays, a water pump to start the cycling process, tubings, bio filter, plants, a medium to grow your plants and of course fresh water fish.

Hence, a medium of either be gravel or hydroton is used, s ince it is soil-less gardening.

Every grown fish needs 5 gallons to a barrel, traditional tanks or aquarium may be used.

“I have realized that you can grow your own food. People nowadays are alienated from their food that they don’t know the process,” Saberon said.

His family’s vegetable consumption increased without buying more vegetables from the market. Their harvest include spring onions, kangkong, ampalaya and cherry tomatoes.

The system mayb be the solution to the problems of hunger and malnutrition.

The minimum cost for setting up a system is P5,000. However it would be lower if one uses recycled materials – available around ones house.

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