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Grow Food with Fish

“Working on this project teaches you a lot about the importance of creation and going back to the way things were”

Wingate & Smyrna UMC

 Wingate University

Wingate, NC

Anson & Union Counties

Looking for a way to address food insecurity in your community that goes beyond conventional community gardens? Look no further than the collaborative effort between Smyrna United Methodist Church, Wingate United Methodist Church and Wingate University, which uses an aquaponics system to provide vulnerable and low-income populations of Anson and Union Counties with healthy produce and protein (fish!).

The system works by combining growing vegetables in water (known as hydroponics) and raising fish (known as aquaculture) -- the fish provide the plants the nutrients they need through their waste, and, in turn, the plants filter out the nutrients and cleanse the water for a healthy fish environment. The aquaponics system is not only a unique way to grow vegetables;  it also provides a source of fish protein (tilapia) for the community.

Why would someone choose aquaponics over conventional gardening?  Aquaponics:

  • uses less water

  • can be done indoors or outdoors

  • can provide an extra source of protein for the community, especially when done in on a large scale

  • produces vegetables without unnatural chemicals

  • can be fun and engaging for participants


In addition to providing access to fresh produce, Smyrna and Wingate UMCs also hope to engage people in learning how to prepare healthy food and to deepen faith-based connections with food, hospitality, and table fellowship via pop-up marketplaces.

Connect. Utilize the experts in your community! Reach out to local schools and colleges to find a science teacher that might be able to help or community members doing aquaponics (or something similar) as a hobby.

Know the basic costs and materials. Remember that you can start a small and simple aquaponics system for a relatively cheap price!  Learn more about the system implemented by Wingate and Smyra UMC here and check out the additional resources below to understand the basic of setting up an aquaponics system.

Engage the community. Aquaponics is a fun and engaging project for youth groups that engages them in hands-on STEM education.







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