A blog from the Ontario Library Service

Aquaponics at your library!

This week, we’re featuring a guest post by our colleagues Susan Thompson and Patrick Cychner at Burlington Public Library about their amazing aquaponics program, a great addition to any food literacy program. What is aquaponics, you ask?  Read on to learn more!

Interested in starting a similar program?  We have an collective purchasing agreement with Lumago for a significant discount.

At Burlington Public Library, we’re giving food away for free.

Our vision is to bring growing and sharing food into the paradigm of library service. To accomplish this, my colleague Patrick Cychner and I received approval to install an indoor garden at the Central branch of Burlington Public Library. We decided that an aquaponic system would be the best way to go. Aquaponic growing combines fish and plants into a symbiotic system: fish waste is converted by bacteria to a form of nitrogen that feeds the growing plants.

Burlington Public Edible Library Poster
Poster for Aquaponics Program at Burlington P.L.

We chose to work with Lumago, a local aquaponics technology company. Lumago was founded by Melissa Houghton, a McMaster Engineering grad. Though she primarily did greenhouse installations, she worked with us to create a small-scale educational installation of aquaponic technology. Lumago now markets this design to educational institutions.

Tilapia in the StudyPonics system by Lumago- Burlington P.L. image
Tilapia in the StudyPonics system by Lumago- Burlington P.L.

Our garden has allowed us to make wonderful connections with our local community. Schools and government officials alike have requested to come see our garden as part of a larger library tour, and the eye-catching installation has initiated countless conversations with members of the public. To help our customers take indoor gardening home, we have developed unique and well-attended programming.

Lumango in Burlington Public Library Image
StudyPonics system in Burlington Public Library

Closeup StudyPonics Systems by Lumago Image
Closeup StudyPonics Systems by Lumago

And when our kale, Swiss chard, and mint plants are ready for harvest, we cut and package them into recloseable plastic bags and give the produce away to the public, free of charge. It is delightful to be able to put a bag of freshly picked greens into someone’s hand in the middle of winter!