DINING A LA KING: Microenterprise produces a whole other set of benefits
Microenterprise produces a whole other set of benefits
Apr 30, 2018 |
ELKHART — Teen Challenge took on a green challenge.
North Central Indiana Teen Challenge, located on former Bayer Corp. property on the north side of Elkhart, is focused on helping men of various ages win the battle over their drug addictions.
Now it has a greenhouse where fish, water, plants and chemistry all come together, tended by men in or working for the program, to grow food.
The residential program, where men often stay 12 to 15 months, has used microenterprise to raise money for programming, including auto detailing. Yet it’s a new venture, one of raising lettuces and herbs, that is both growing financially and creating a whole set of other benefits.
Using technology from Glynn Barber and Scott Truex, a greenhouse was constructed a greenhouse in 2015 for the Life Center, a job skills initiative. Scott Tuttle handed off the greenhouse to Teen Challenge, which came to Elkhart in 2010. It’s one of more than 1,110 centers in more than 100 countries.
The greenhouse was being constructed about the same time Joey Sarver was graduating from the program, so he stayed on as an intern to learn how to grow greens in an aquaponic system. “The timing it was awesome,” said Andy Collins, director of the program.
“There’s times I wanted to pack it in,” said Sarver of his learning process. The next day, he’d have a breakthrough and find a solution to the challenge. “God, he just wanted that obedience,” Sarver said.
That trial and error was a blessing because of what it taught him, he said. Now, he’s helping Barber write a manual for the systems he sells.
A hydroponic system relies on water and additives. The aquaponic system starts with fish, in this case perch and bluegill, to eat food. What they release into the water after they eat their food becomes food for the plants. “It’s really cultivating fish waste,” said Collins.
Ammonia released by the fish is eaten by one bacteria to create a nitrite. A second bacteria converts it to nitrates, which feed the plants. That essentially cleans the water that goes back into the fish tank.
“The plants are depending on the fish and the fish are dependent on the plants,” Sarver said.