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Tue, Nov. 30

Hydroponics and aquaponics farm breaks ground at Grand Canyon Junction

Grand Canyon Junction resident Stoney Ward recently opened Spirit of the West, a hydroponic and aquaponic garden at his home. Ward plans to offer tours and share the art of gardening with others. (V. Ronnie Tierney/WGCN)

Grand Canyon Junction resident Stoney Ward recently opened Spirit of the West, a hydroponic and aquaponic garden at his home. Ward plans to offer tours and share the art of gardening with others. (V. Ronnie Tierney/WGCN)

Hydroponic and aquaponic gardening, that is, growing plants without soil, is breaking ground in Grand Canyon Junction and resident and health enthusiast Stoney Ward is excited to share his dream.

Called Spirit of the Canyon, Ward says his mission is to help people by educating them on the system of hydroponic gardening so they can grow vegetables at home.

“I love plants and I figured out a way to simplify growing fresh vegetables year around,” he said. “I want to teach people how they can be self-sustainable without owning acres of land.”

Hydroponics and aquaponics help the environment by conserving water, as the same water is used to continuously flow through the system to feed the plants.

“A lot of people don’t realize that they can grow food without a lot of land or soil,” Ward said. “Micro greens is a great example of a highly nutritious low cost food.”

Ward said growing food helps the public to be less dependent on big business, and provides not only healthy food for families, but also a sense of accomplishment.

“Hydroponics uses a circulating water system circulating with air and the air creates oxygen to the plants. By using nutrition to feed the plants they get vitamins that encourages growth much faster,” he said. “I can grow lettuce from start to finish in less than 30 days.”

In combination with hydroponics, aquaponics grows fish and other aquatic animals and their discharge or waste is then used to feed the plants. In return the vegetables cleanse the water, which is recycled back to the fish.

“Both feed nutrition to the plants resulting in a perfect collaboration,” Ward explained. “Once people taste these fresh organic vegetables, they will love them and want to start growing them on their own.”

Ward said his goal is to change the world one plant at a time.

“People are realizing they can be self-sustainable without owning acres of land. Urban farming is really big right now,” he said.

Along with Ward’s ranch in Grand Canyon Junction, he will also be taking his project mobile.

“I have a trailer that will be in full operation by November this year. I will be transporting veggies to Tusayan and Williams giving out samples and selling my starter kits,” he said.

He also would like to give free products to people in need as well as donate to local food banks.

“It’s my way of giving back to the community,” he said. “I will also be offering educational events where groups can come to the ranch to learn how the system works, how to create their own garden, and how to eat healthier without breaking the bank.”

Ward plans to visit schools and other institutions throughout Coconino County to show how the system works. He will also be selling his fresh vegetables, microgreens and fruit as well as direct sales to customers.

His farm took him three months to build.

“It would have taken someone else a year, but I put a lot of time into it,” he said. “I started with a vision and expanded it.”

Currently Ward has chickens, ducks and goats, which supplement his personal food source. He is planning a retreat center at his ranch at Grand Canyon Junction for groups wanting an outdoor experience. He has also incorporated solar energy into his project.

More information about Spirit of the Canyon is available from Ward at (702) 333-8361.

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