Years ago, I was introduced to the concept of growing vegetables through a technique called hydroponics, which is the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil. I was amazed! Not because I don’t like getting my fingers dirty, but because of what hydroponics could mean for people all over the world.
One of the hot new innovations that was talked about at the time was the possibility of using fish as the source of the “added nutrients” needed to support plant growth; this method is called aquaponics. I was excited about the idea of being able to produce both vegetables and protein for consumption from the same system.
As I researched the topic more, I read about people taking this technology to developing nations and struggling people groups with poor or unusable soil. Pioneers were even experimenting with incorporating these systems into the very structure of their homes. I imagined opening a cabinet door in my kitchen and picking a tomato off the vine, then going down to my basement to harvest a fresh fish — not to mention that it’s well within the realm of possibility that achieving this would require less energy than it takes to put a steak on my table.
I thought to myself, “This is the future!”
Fast forward nearly a decade later — after giving my life to God and joining Youth With A Mission, I found the study and practice of aquaponics embraced and used on many YWAM bases worldwide. It's allowed me to help with a mid-sized system in Central Asia, and I've been able to study how to implement aquaponics in a community-development setting. Then, I got to work on a commercial-level YWAM aquaponics farm in Colorado.
Now I am immersing myself more and more every day into this growing technique.
At YWAM Ozarks, where I serve on staff, the 2018-19 Discipleship Training School assisted me in designing and constructing our own aquaponics system that supports three square meters of grow space using almost 100 fish. What was once a rundown greenhouse being used for junk storage that looked like this:
now looks like this
It is the students’ plan to take what we’ve built and replicate it in their outreach location: a small fishing village in Nayarit, Mexico.
Isaiah 58:10-11 says, “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.”
To help others is a basic calling on the life of anyone who follows Jesus, and it’s one of my greatest joys. Aquaponics is a very practical and effective way to fight hunger and to share Christ with people in need.
Every day, I work to operate and maintain the system here in Ozark, AR. I want to produce enough to feed the YWAM base I live on and to share with the local food bank. I also want to have the youth of Ozark involved by partnering with the local KLIFE chapter we work with regularly.
I want to expand this project as far as possible here at YWAM Ozarks, and I believe I’m with the right people to make that happen. We have the potential to eventually feed hundreds of folks in the Ozark area and to develop a small, inexpensive modular system that we can take to impoverished communities in other parts of the world.
I pray that someday this:
will look like this:
I work very hard to keep operating costs low, but I still need help. Please pray about it, and if you would like to partner with our efforts, we all would sure appreciate it. Donations are accepted here at Pure Charity (click on “Donate to This Fundraiser”) or here on the YWAM Ozarks website (under the first “Choose One” drop-down menu, select “Staff-Murphy”). Either way, all donations are tax-deductible!
Connor Murphy is a full time mission worker with YWAM Ozark who specializes in community development. He came to know God with the help of the community at Grace and has been a member for a year and a half.