Small-scale subsistence farming became a money saver for David Young in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic caused international shocks and provide chain disruptions.
And today, he continues to reap the advantages of his investment.
In an interview at his Crick Hill, Weston, St James home, Young told Barbados TODAY that in the course of the heightened stages of the pandemic, the wait for imported food to achieve the island, lockdowns, and challenges with the alphabet system for supermarket visits, were concerning and it made more sense to grow a number of the food eaten in his household of two.
Taking inspiration from his wife, the spear fisherman decided to take a position in an aquaponic system.
“My wife is into plants lots; she studies the medicinal uses of plants. So our plan was, when now we have our home to have our own garden, to grow our own food. It’s more nutritious, organic and far healthier,” he said.
“It also cuts down on the cash you spend within the supermarket and makes you more self-sufficient and you might be capable of put that cash towards other projects.”
It took Young about $3 000 to get his system arrange and that cost included, a pump, a filter, plumbing conduit, a water tote (drum), labour and 25 koi.
He also reached out to Baird’s Village Aquaponics Association to get guidance on developing the system for his needs.
Even though it might seem to be an expensive enterprise, the 45-year-old Young said the system had already paid back for itself, noting that it only accounted for 10 per cent or less of his electricity bill.
Seeing as much as $200 off his grocery bill on a bi-weekly basis confirmed to him that it was a wise investment.
“We eat a whole lot of veg so I definitely see the cutbacks from the supermarket. It takes like $75 to $100 off the grocery bill so we try to maintain that bill right down to a minimum of $300. So every two weeks, if you put all of it together, you would roughly save about $200.
“Additionally it is very low maintenance; the fish does all of the work. I only have to have a look at this for maintenance once every three months. So, principally, every morning all I actually have to do is stand up and feed the fish,” Young explained.
Aquaponics is a system during which the waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purifies the water.
In Young’s small-scale system, 48 plants might be grown concurrently or in groups on a rotational basis.
“That is some of the effective ways to sustain your property with food. During COVID-19, as you understand, you weren’t capable of move around or go to the supermarket on the time you desired to go. It was restrictive and having this method freed me up lots more.
“Sometimes I just got here out here, sat down and watched the fish. It relaxed me so in that way, it played multiple roles.”
Currently, Young plants leafy greens akin to lettuce and mustard greens and he’s experimenting with cucumber plants.
For now, Young said he was satisfied with providing enough food for his household but in a couple of years may consider expanding his system and moving into business farming.