Despite the common misconceptions of aquaponics and hydroponics being used to grow marijuana, local Stafford couple, Shiran and Chris Faast have made it their mission is to inspire people to recapture the joy of gardening and to grow food for their own kitchens.
The couple who own Aqua Gardening on Billabong Street, Stafford have seen record numbers of their hydroponic and aquaponic gardening kits sold last year, with its customer base increasing 8% each month, supercharged by the pandemic.
Hydroponic systems use nutrients to grow plants dirt-free. In aquaponic systems, those nutrients are produced by fish living in the water, who feed off the plants symbiotically. The techniques are commonly associated with cannabis farms because they can be used indoors to grow plants quickly.
Last year the business recorded 16,556 new customers compared to just 4,900 in 2019. Customer retention was also significant with 60% of revenue earned through repeat customers. Since the start of the pandemic, 70% of sales have been online.
The craze reached peak popularity during the pandemic as families scrambled to avoid the supermarket and live more sustainably.
Business owner and mother-of-two Shiran Faast said she was glad to see the once niche hobby finally enter the mainstream.
‘People who once might have turned up their nose are now opening their eyes to the potential of hydroponics,’ Mrs Faast said.
‘These systems are no longer just for the elderly, or for people who wish to grow marijuana in a shed. They are for couples and families who want to live more sustainably and reduce their grocery bills by growing their own fresh produce.
‘Indoor gardening is a safe, tranquil escape from the stress of everyday life, as well as a tasty source of fruit and veg, free from chemicals and pesticides.’
If you are looking to learn more about Hydroponics, Aqua Gardening has an educational Youtube channel that features dozens of free tutorials on growing safe and healthy food and has already received more than 100,000 views.
Moreover, there are now ‘DIY’ pre-made kits available that set customers up for gardening success with their user friendly and mess-free nature.
‘People who once thought indoor gardening would be too difficult or messy are discovering dirt-free alternatives and realising the potential to grow their favourite foods, regardless of season. Some the easiest to grow plants include tomatoes, leafy lettuce, cucumbers, cauliflower and even strawberries,’ Mrs Faast said.