The ACRES Project is using the art and science of aquaponics to produce sustainable, local food while providing horticultural therapy, employment opportunities, job skills training, and community integration for our neighbors with autism and other disabilities. Our greenhouse is overflowing with people, plants, and purpose!
Fish & Plants in Harmony
What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics is a highly efficient and sustainable method of indoor agriculture where fish and vegetables grow in tandem without the use of soil, artificial pesticides or fertilizers. Fish grow in tanks in a miniature closed-loop ecosystem. The waste produced by the fish fertilizes the plants, which in turn filter the water for the fish. This short video explains how it works:
Compared to conventional agriculture, aquaponics uses 90% less water to sustainably grow 5 to 20 times more food per acre, with zero pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, or runoff. It's better than organic!
The efficient indoor system also reduces time to harvest by one-third and produces a steady supply of fresh, locally-grown produce year-round!
Adults with autism often have difficulty finding, keeping, and achieving success on the job. Impairments in social skills and organizational abilities leave many of these adults without employment, or working at jobs they cannot sustain. Although 61% of adults with autism want to hold a job, 85% are unemployed, even with a college degree. This is the lowest employment rate of any disability group. Acres Aquaponics provides these adults with an employment opportunity that fits.
The different skills and procedures required to operate an aquaponics system allow for many different job opportunities. Planting, data entry, fish care, chemistry, and sales are just a few of the job skills that can be developed through aquaponics. Acres Aquaponics is an approved Vocational Training Program for Pennsylvania's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR).
Meet our diverse team making Acres Aquaponics possible!
What We Grow & Where to BuyAcres Aquaponics is currently producing herbs, lettuces, and microgreens. Our produce is available to purchase at Titan Market in Bellefonte on Fridays and Saturdays, with plans to sell at local farmers markets and to restaurants in the future.
Every purchase from Acres Aquaponics supports the program and those who benefit from it.
Steven Sidorick • Frank & Ann Peno • Adam & Heather Fernsler • Community Volunteers