Our Aquaponics Program has made quite a splash last year. From constantly providing fresh meals to local soup kitchens, including donating meals directly after Hurricane Ian, to providing STEM education opportunities, this program has touched numerous lives in a short amount of time. However, there is much more to be done.
Thanks to the generosity of you all in 2022, we are able to expand this program by moving to a larger facility. This new 7,500 sq foot Aquaponics Center will enable us to educate thousands of students and provide hundreds of thousands of nutritious meals to those suffering from food insecurity in South Florida. As we continue on our mission to educate the next generation and sustainably fight food insecurity, we are incredibly grateful to all of you who help make our work possible.
I am pleased to introduce a new member to our Board of Directors, Cristina Hicks. She brings a wealth of knowledge to MEI from her impressive background with experience in both environmental and business sectors with JM Family Enterprises. We are also thrilled to announce that Laura Cassetty, our Aquaponics Operator, will now be joining us full-time! She is looking forward to expanding on the educational component of our aquaponics program in her new capacity as Aquaponics Director. This will allow MEI to host higher-quality STEM-education field trips for underserved youth in our community. With Laura's assistance, MEI will help to provide additional support to the environmental science curriculum in South Florida schools.
We look forward to sharing more about our educational and food security efforts this fall and into the new year. Thank you for your support.
Around this time last year, we had our first harvest at our Aquaponics Center in Boca Raton, FL, since then we have provided over 40,000 meals to local soup kitchens and educated hundreds in our local community about sustainable agriculture and the power of aquaponics. We are incredibly proud of the hard work our volunteers put in to grow and harvest this food. Thanks to your support, we have been able to supplement Boca Helping Hands Saturday meal service on a consistent basis. In the next year, we plan to increase our output 10x and partner with more soup kitchens in South Florida!
We always try to provide the most nutritious produce to our community partners. Thus far we have produced over one metric ton of nutritious plants including lettuce, arugula, bok choi, swiss chard, basil, cilantro, field sprouts, and dill. Additionally, in 2021 we saved over 100,000 gallons of water by farming via aquaponics versus traditional agriculture. Recently, we decided to start growing kale in our Aquaponics Center. Kale is one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods on the planet due to the amounts of vitamins A, K, B6, and C, calcium, potassium, copper, and manganese it contains. We look forward to continue providing highly nutritious produce and fish to our local soup kitchens this year!
Thanks to the generosity of numerous volunteers and donors we have now surpassed our milestone of 20,000 meals provided to local soup kitchens in Palm Beach County! We have also had the privilege of hosting school field trips at our aquaponics center where the students received an overview of how an aquaponics farm operates and received hands-on experience with testing water quality, discussing water physics, learning fish/plant anatomy, and discussing the nitrification cycle. Thank you to everyone who has been involved with this amazing initiative as we continue to help fight food insecurity in our area as well as educate the next generation on the importance of sustainable agriculture.
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