Triad Magazine

A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.

SUSTAINABILITY AT ALAFIA FARMS

~TIFFANY BROWN

The Alafia farms are situated in and around the backyard of Paul Rabaut’s house and are a treat to walk through. The yard was what sold Rabaut and his wife when they got the house as they started out on their journey of creating a self-sustaining farm.
The Rabauts have turned this normal backyard into a self-sustaining farmland. Walking up the driveway, the house seems like a normal house sitting in a normal yard, but then there are chickens, a lot of chickens.
The chickens are housed in a coup that allows them to roam from the backyard on over to the side yard. They stand out when entering the farm, and it is easy to get caught up in watching them and forget that there is an actual farm going on around the corner.
Alafia farm is a self-sustaining farm that grows many different vegetable plants, and they do this by feeding the plants fish poop. Yes, you’ve read that right, they feed the plants fish poop. The plants are grown in rock, not soil. This way there is not so much water used. The nutrients for the plants is pumped from barrels that house Tilapia fish.
Soldier flies (maggots) are fed to the fish, and the fish in turn provide proper nutrients through their waste to feed the plants.
The vegetable plants are luscious, even during this time of year. As you stroll through the garden, there are many scents in the air of what’s in season. The good news is that if you would like to sample something, you are likely to be invited to go ahead and take a small piece of the plant to enjoy. You might even be able to begin your own vegetable plant from the sample. This helps Alafia’s message to get across that growing your own food and being able to eat local, holds so much more value than eating fast food. When people grow their own food, and share it with their neighbors, it becomes more of a community endeavor. So, eating together could become more of a community event. This provides neighbors time to actually sit down and talk to each other.
The farm has taken time to build, but the payoff has been invaluable. Melissa Mets, an Honors Program student at the Dale Mabry campus, pointed out how the farm opened her “eyes to how the system works.” She’s hoping for Dale Mabry to set an example of a community garden by providing box gardens, and in time possibly a food pantry with fresh vegetables to help low-income students eat better.
Food is a basic need, and Alafia farms shows how it really is possible to grow our own and to make it self-sustainable so that it is not using a lot of resources.
It can bring people back to the moment, helping them to be more mindful about what they eat, and how they eat.
Raubaut points out that “you cherish your food more when you have to grow it yourself, or kill your own chicken.”
For more information, look for them on Facebook, @Alafiafarms.

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