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Beggs couple pioneers in aquaponic farming

Posted at 10:00 PM, Aug 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-03 23:01:32-04

Buying organic or even growing your own vegetables has become really popular.

In tonight's On the Road, anchor Lisa Jones introduces us to a Beggs couple who has taken organic to a whole new level.

Traditional gardening really pays off when the vegetables are harvested.

It can sometimes make you forget how hard you worked to get your bounty.

But, there's a small farm in Beggs that's ahead of agriculture trends and has gotten the attention of United States government and others.

Bob and Debbie Rider, grew up working in their family's garden.

They've always had one of their own too here in Beggs on their 40 acres.

Ten years ago, their youngest son came home from high school excited about a new way to farm is called aquaponics.

That day, Bob Rider, made his son a deal.

"If you'll put this greenhouse up and you'll work it and you'll bring me a tomato in January and it tastes like we just took it out of the garden," Bob Rider said.

Thousands of tomatoes and dozens of other kinds of vegetables later, the riders say aquaponics is the future for farming, and a lot less work.

"There's no weeds, no roto-tilling," Rider Farms owner Debbie Rider said. "Everything is right here so there's no bending over"

Here's how aquaponics farming works.

In this temp controlled greenhouse, the riders put koi, tilapia, and goldfish into rainwater they collect.

"Its the fish urine that we're after, the solids we want to pump out," Rider said. "We don't want that in our system."

There's no dirt, these are chunks of expanded clay that can be used over and over.

They collect bacteria and when combined with the water and fish urine, the perfect kind of nitrates that plants love is created.

Each greenhouse the riders sell and put up becomes its own Eco-system. No chemicals of any kind, completely organic.

Everything grows 4 times faster than in a traditional garden.

Earthworms clean the beds and ladybugs handle any bad insects.

"They work together and take care of all the bugs in here," Rider said. "So Amazon sells us 1,500 every month"

The riders experiment with all kinds of plants, so far there's very little they can't grow through aquaponics.

They teach classes and do tours to educate anyone who wants to learn more - including the USDA, local doctors interested in eating healthy and local school children.

"In the winter time when people are starting to lose their garden the frost comes in, we're ramping up in here," Rider said.

The Rider's sell their vegetables and even deliver them.

You can check out their Facebook page for what's available.

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