Kate humble

WATCH: Kate’s aquaponic greenhouse

Television presenter’s vision for the playground of the future

Kate Humble has always been something of a trailblazer since she began championing the environment almost 20 years ago.

So the aquaponic solar greenhouse at her farm on the Welsh borders shouldn’t really come as too much of a surprise. But she isn’t happy just to be hosting the UK’s first fully sustainable food growing technique, using a blend of aquaculture, farming fish and hydroponics.

Determined to merge innovation, diversification and entrepreneurial spirit, she wants to see one of the greenhouses on every school playground within the next 10 years.

“Why not? They can produce 30 kilos of fruit and veg a week so I’d much rather see one of these in the local park than a foodbank,” said the host of hit programmes like Lambing Live, Countryfile and Wild Things.

Kate Humble in greenhouse

She is the first person in Britain to trial the innovative UK growing technique first made popular by the Chinese thousands of years ago. Fish in her south-facing greenhouse create nitrate-rich water that it is pumped back to the growing area where spinach and pak choi thrive.

“The aquaponic greenhouses can produce 30 kilos of fruit and veg a week. I’d much rather see one of these in the local park than a foodbank”

Built with super-insulated recyclable plastic from Japan, it can be used all year round and needs only a fraction of the usual water usage.

Fish in her south-facing greenhouse create nitrate-rich water that it is pumped back to the growing area where spinach and pak choi thrive. Built with super-insulated recyclable plastic from Japan, it can be used all year round and needs only a fraction of the usual water usage.

Grantor Kate said: “We are in an area near the mountains where it’s hard to grow anything, so we looked at our options. This was an idea first used by the Chinese to grow vegetables in frozen Siberia. A biomass boiler, photovoltaic panels and double thickness plastic means no heat is wasted and all water is high in nitrates.”

She has worked closely with Aquaponics UK to create a system requiring few inputs and many, high value outputs: “In a nutshell we grow fish and recycle the nutrient rich water into soiless vegetable production cleaning the water in the process so it can be constantly reused.

Fish in tank
Fish in Kate’s south-facing greenhouse create nitrate-rich water that it is pumped back to the growing area where spinach and pak choi thrive. Scroll down for the video.

“We are in an area near the mountains where it’s hard to grow anything, so we looked at our options. This was an idea first used by the Chinese to grow vegetables in frozen Siberia. A biomass boiler, photovoltaic panels and double thickness plastic means no heat is wasted and all water is high in nitrates.”

This way to the future

She added: “This productive, edible ecosystem which is also be combined with a variety of other complementary farming techniques such as producing fish and poultry food from insects, and growing quail, fed from by-products of the system.”

Her Humble by Nature farm in Monmouthshire is running five-day courses to spread the word about the new concept and bring it to a playground near you.

She added: “We welcome field trips from schools and universities because it’s is an essential resource for studying sustainable food production and aquaculture, giving students the opportunity to see this pioneering technology first hand, taking it away and making it happen.”

WATCH: The first in a series of films about Kate’s Aquaponics Solar Greenhouse.

 

Credits

Photography by Roy Kilcullen