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'It's all worth it:' Twiggs County families use aquaponics system for fresh food

Brandon Crumsey with the UGA Twiggs County Extension Office says the system can create jobs and address food insecurity.

TWIGGS COUNTY, Ga. — Some Twiggs County families are using a special system to grow fresh food. Aquaponics is a system that involves fish and plants working together so they can grow together.

Dennis Mock has had his aquaponics system for about four months.

"The taste of the tomatoes and the taste of the cucumbers, to me, was different than what you would buy or have out in your garden," said Mock. 

Brandon Crumsey with the UGA Extension Office in Twiggs County says aquaponics is the the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. 

Basically, the waste fish create in the water is pumped through a system to fertilize the plants. The plants then help clean the water that is pumped back into the fish's container. 

"I've seen the fish grow. They were about two inches when I got them. They are about four to five inches now, so I'm just kind of watching everything happen in it's own little ecosystem," said Mock. 

Crumsey says with only one grocery store in the county, the aquaponics system has many benefits.

"You would have a fresh meat source in the fish, and you would also have access to fresh produce," said Crumsey. 

He says some families use the system to sell fish, fruits, and veggies.

"It could help potentially create jobs and address the food insecurity issue in Twiggs County," said Crumsey. 

Mock is currently growing tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, and other herbs.

"Just to come out here and watch it daily, just to see the growth, has just been tremendous and a lot of fun," said Mock. 

He spent a couple hundred dollars to buy the supplies to build his own system.

"It's all worth it," said Mock.  

Mock says he doesn't have to deal with deer eating his plants or worry about picking weeds. The aquaponics system is all-natural and doesn't use any soil.

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