Why Indoor Gardens?

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Why a Beautiful Indoor Aquaponics Garden is the Solution You Need Right Now

If you’ve been spending a lot of time indoors lately, you are not alone. In general, most people spend about 80% of their lives indoors. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re spending most of that time in one location — and things are growing.
Unfortunately, these things are not our wellness, happiness, or inner peace. Our worries about staying healthy and keeping our immune systems strong have increased. We’re also worried about continuing to have access to a healthy food supply. Our stress levels are beginning to reach unhealthy levels from being cooped up indoors, largely in an environment not designed for long-term usage.
As we stare into the face of empty supermarket shelves, risky home delivery services, and extended stay-at-home orders, the situation seems to be getting worse. However, there is good news — a green light at the end of the tunnel.

People are finding relief in gardening — and particularly indoor gardening — in large numbers. Gardening provides a soothing and positive outlet for many problems created by coronavirus quarantine. 

By growing our own food, we not only create a source of healthy food for ourselves and our families, but we get something to do with our hands: 
an activity to focus on that promotes life which serves as a needed counter to the blight of the daily news report.

While there are many types of gardens (ranging from backyard soil patches to windowsill flower pots of basil and cilantro), there is one type of indoor gardening system you might not have heard about that is the ideal solution in times like these   –   a beautifully designed indoor aquaponics garden.

Why I’m Passionate About Aquaponics

First, full disclosure: I’ve been an aquaponics professional for 7 years. I became an advocate for aquaponics after a trip to Cambodia where I witnessed people and too many children living in abject poverty. It motivated me to find a way to help them have a sustainable food supply. After much research, I happened upon aquaponics, which turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.

I set up a non-profit called Koya Project to teach this method of farming to children in Cambodia, so that they could provide food for their families, and eventually teach others. To say I’m passionate about this subject might be a bit of an understatement. I’ve seen aquaponics change lives first-hand, and I think it could change yours, and others, for the better – right now. Here’s how

What is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is an ancient sustainable agriculture system employed by the Aztecs and Chinese. In its simplest form, aquaponics is a natural way of growing plants and fish together in a soilless closed loop system.
In an aquaponics system, the fish live in water and produce waste. This water is fed to plants, and with the assistance of helpful microbes, becomes a nutritious and organic plant food. The plants grow big and fast, and clean the water, which is drained back to the fish tank. In most systems, the plant grow beds are on top of the fish tank, but they can be customized in all sorts of creative ways.
Almost any kind of fruit or vegetable can be grown, and the fish can either be purely ornamental or also raised for food (depending on the kind of fish, of course). Modern incarnations of an aquaponics system can be any size: from a football-field sized warehouse, to a simple system employing plastic bins, to a beautifully designed system in your home that is as much art as it is garden.
As you might guess, an aquaponics system has many benefits beyond what you might get from a regular garden.

The Benefits of Aquaponics

There are many green benefits to an aquaponics system — and one of the most important is water conservation. Because the plants never need to be watered, and the system is closed loop, an aquaponics system uses about 90% less water than traditional agriculture (which also saves you money on your water bill). By growing without pesticides and chemicals, there’s also no pollutants or runoff being put back into the environment.
An aquaponics garden also allows for increased plant density of 150% along with faster harvests. Plants grown in an aquaponics system have, in my personal experience, close to 10x greater yields than traditional agriculture. Basically, you can grow more food in a smaller space faster, and it’s as natural as can be. No pesticides on your veggies, no mercury in your fish.

The best part is how sustainable an indoor aquaponics garden can be. With simple maintenance and care techniques, you have a system that maintains its own viability for continual reuse. Because you also control the grow cycle, that means a continual supply of fresh herbs or kale year-round, or even summer squash during the winter months.

What you grow is up to you, so you can feed your family from your own natural food supply — which also saves you both money and the risk of accidental virus exposure from a trip to the supermarket.

While aquaponics systems can be operated outdoors, such as this system I designed at the Pyramids of Chi in Bali, Indonesia, it is indoors where they can perform at their best.

The Advantages of Indoor Gardening

Outdoor gardens, and their country relatives, farms, are what we generally think about when we think of gardening. Indoor gardening is a fairly recent innovation, mostly due to the developments of sunlight-simulating light fixtures and systems like hydroponics (which you may have heard of in association with the burgeoning cannabis industry). While indoor gardens have some obvious advantages over outdoor gardens, there are a few other benefits that may surprise you.

Environmental Control

The main advantage of indoor gardening is environmental control. When you have an indoor garden, the sun rises and sets at your command. Rain, wind, hail, excessive drought — these are no longer vectors of concern. You never have to worry about most animal or insect pests (unless you have a cat and are growing a crop of catnip — but that can be solved with a sturdy closet door).

Food Security & Safety

A healthy indoor garden means that you have achieved a high degree of food security for your crops. In our current pandemic situation, having an indoor garden is a way to augment your family’s supply of healthy food, and having the security of knowing where it comes from and what is in it.
When you have your own vegetable, fruit, or herb garden, you’ll always have access to fresh, delicious, healthy produce. It’s a wonderful feeling to simply pluck a few leaves of fresh basil off your plant, or pick some fresh greens to add to the latest trendy recipe you’re preparing.

Clean Air & New Community

Indoor gardens also provide something else we need during times when we’re stuck indoors — clean air. Having plants constantly purifying your air supply is good for your health, and you can even say thank you to them if you need someone to talk to. Yes, It’s even been shown that plants actually respond positively to being talked to!
But you don’t only have to talk to your plants. Virtual garden clubs have been popping up all over social media, so you can easily find a gardening community to share growing tips and tricks from a safe distance.

Increased Well-being

Improved feelings of well-being may be the most underrated benefit of indoor gardening. While the therapeutic aspects of gardening have long been understood, during this time of restricted activities the healing aspects of what you can do have become so much more important.

Studies have shown the stress, depression, and PTSD-relieving qualities of simply getting out in nature. Having a lush, green garden inside your house provides the same kind of relief. Taking care of your plants also fosters your sense of compassion, something that is surely needed in times that are challenging all of us to feel more of it.

The Power of Beautiful Design

As it turns out, you can amplify these feelings of well-being through thoughtful and beautiful design of an indoor aquaponics garden. High-end home decor has a part to play in this solution.

While you can create a simple indoor garden — or even a simple indoor aquaponics system — with basically a couple plastic bins and grow lamps, do you really want that in your living room?
When I first got into aquaponics, something I immediately noticed was just how industrial most of the systems looked. I’ve always been a fan of beautiful interior design and home decor, and decided that my goal was to marry the life-changing power of aquaponics to high-end, unique design. Originally, my thought was that this would help more people adopt aquaponics systems into their homes, and I believe it definitely does.
But the design and elements incorporated into an indoor aquaponics system have tangible benefits that go far beyond just looking good. Great interior design philosophy promotes mental health, going all the way back to the ancient art of Feng Shui. Design that promotes efficiency, productivity, and intimacy is what people respond most positively towards.

That’s why I believe that any system inside your home should not only fit in seamlessly, but also become something that is cherished, enjoyed, and even a centerpiece of a room.

Lighting & Construction Essentials

An aquaponics system with warm lighting and eye-catching design can be a terrific (and environmentally-friendly) replacement for a fireplace. The simulated natural lighting of LED grow lamps adds a touch of nourishing sunlight indoors, which is shown to create increased vitality and improved mental health among office workers.

Using holistic, natural structural elements that connect us to the outside world and soft ambient lighting provides not only aesthetic appeal, but also soothes anxieties and softens the space.

Therapeutic Fish & Water

But it’s not just the plant life and design of an indoor aquaponics system that are beneficial — there’s also the fish and water.

Now, most home systems will not be large enough to have tanks which hold fish bred for consumption, like tilapia. What they will have is a beautiful integrated and lit aquarium filled with brightly colored fish. A study by Plymouth University in 2005 found that simply watching fish in an aquarium led to noticeable reductions in heart rate and blood pressure. This is why you often see fish tanks in doctor’s and dentist’s waiting rooms.

Additionally, the gentle sound of flowing water as the system circulates creates a natural water feature. This creates a tranquil, meditative state that marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols calls a “Blue Mind”, which may also bolster feelings of well-being and creativity.

A Solution for Our Times

A beautifully designed indoor aquaponics system brings together the best elements of indoor gardens, fish tanks, and holistic interior design to create a solution for our times.
An indoor aquaponics system provides you and your family with your own supply of delicious, natural fruits, vegetables, and herbs. It helps relieve stress, depression, and anxiety. It creates a centerpiece not only for your home, but for a healthy lifestyle — and it’s good for the environment both inside and outside your home.
Aquaponics systems are not only good for the home. They can be seamlessly integrated into a business setting, such as in an office or hotel lobby. What better way to make a statement about what your company or brand stands for, while also promoting a healthy work environment.
Thanks to the miracle of technology and innovative interior design, aquaponics has evolved from its early outdoor agriculture origins to a stylish in-home system with invaluable, life-changing benefits. With thoughtful design and automation that makes it easy to maintain, your indoor aquaponics garden is a sustainable model for a healthier, more secure future.
In today’s world, an indoor aquaponics garden may be just what the doctor ordered — and a source of delicious food, peaceful tranquility, and enhanced wellness for a lifetime.

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