By Ellaine Kryss Hubilla

A walk in the park is already relaxing, but what can make it even more fascinating is the
realization that the beautiful environment you’re wandering around is sustainable and eco-friendly.

Rob Simpson is an American-born sustainability expert who lives in Panglao, Bohol. Simpson has advised all levels of the US Government, as well as other governments around the world whose goal is to minimize pollution and sustain food security.

Simpson heads a project called Sustainable Philippines, which promotes sustainability by sharing options under which humans and nature can co-exist together in a harmonious relationship.

Rob Simpson built an aquaponics system around a nipa hut
that mimics the feel of a park.

Due to his fascination with the idea of sustainability, he built a visually appealing aquaponics system in Panglao. His aquaponic demonstration project is built around a nipa hut located over a small water reservoir that contains fish and is surrounded by cultivated edible plants.

A wooden bridge over the water reservoir connects the mainland to the nipa hut, which is a relaxing spot to unwind while appreciating the beauty of plants and fish.

Universal benefits of aquaponics system

In the Philippines, the goal is to minimize the impact of pollution and climate change by
adopting methods that can sustainably support agriculture and the environment. “The
Filipino people have always been excellent at adapting to various situations and there are some excellent resources to help them do so, in what can be a great challenge posed by climate change. Aquaponics can be one of those resources,” Simpson explained.

According to Simpson “[The] aquaponics system is an advanced food production method in which you grow fish or other aquatic species, and using the nutrient-rich water that they create, you irrigate plants in a soilless hydroponic system, which in turn cleans the water for the fish,” he added that “it can be a key technology to integrate sustainability into your lifestyle.”

The symbiotic system is a great way to increase productivity due to the nutrient-rich water that supplies the plant. It can also save up to 97% of water compared to other cultivation methods because of the closed-loop system that recycles water and nutrients.

Aside from that, the aquaponics system is scalable. It means that you can start this kind of technology with the little that you have, and build from there. “They can be as small as one fish tank or drum of fish and a few plants to fit your space or budget and to learn about the process,” Simpson explained. You can even upgrade the area up to hectares if you already mastered the technology.

The technology can be valuable for everyone; it can be feasible whether you are in the city or in the province; as long as resources are available, you can build your own aquaponics system.

It is also beneficial in a way that it enhances the status of your food security and simultaneously improves the quality of food that you and your family eat because the best way to know your food is safe is when you grow them yourself. At the same time, landscaping your aquaponics system can bring out the creativity in you, which also adds the benefit of beautifying your environment.

How a sustainable expert creates his aquaponics system

Currently, Simpson’s aquaponics system grows a variety of vegetables like water spinach
(kangkong), which is the easiest to grow, as well as lettuce, bok choy, tomatoes, and many other herbs and plants alongside tilapia and koi.

Azolla or duckweed is also cultivated in Simpson’s aquaponics system. It contains a high
level of nutrients and serves as food for the fish, which greatly reduces feeding costs.

Sustainable Philippines offers a training center for sustainability measures, including high-level resource management techniques such as aquaponics. The aquaponics system built around a nipa hut is a demonstration project using local sustainable materials to showcase how technology can be integrated into the local culture.

Aiming to achieve a sustainable environment with a secure food supply, the team is
presently developing this beautiful aquaponic system from a nipa hut into a building that produces food for the populace. “It is being built from recycled local materials, on top of a fish pond with a greenhouse on the roof, which gives the added benefit of shading the building,” Simpson explained.