FISH AND VEGIES: Doug and Desley Kuhn's aquaponic set up at their property near Mungungo. Picture: Contributed
FISH AND VEGIES: Doug and Desley Kuhn's aquaponic set up at their property near Mungungo. Picture: Contributed

So-fish-ticated way to grow veggies

A RETIRED North Burnett couple have created an unlikely partnership between vegetables and fish, culminating in a fun and sustainable hobby.

Mungungo couple Doug and Delsey Kuhn have 50 silver perch swimming in a small pond on their property.

According to Mrs Kuhn, this school of fish works tirelessly to help sustain the numerous vegetable plants surrounding their enclosure, and vice versa.

This process is called aquaponics, and it's a combination of aquaculture, the growing of fish and other aquatic animals, and hydroponics, which is growing plants without soil.

"We started putting it together at Christmas in 2019, so it's taken some time to get it up and running," Mrs Kuhn said.

Doug and Desley Kuhn's aquaponic set up at their property near Mungungo. Picture: Contributed
Doug and Desley Kuhn's aquaponic set up at their property near Mungungo. Picture: Contributed

"We've done a lot of experimenting, with there being a lot of these down south, but none really in Queensland."

This scientific process uses the symbiotic combination where the plants are fed the fishes' discharge, with the vegetables cleaning the water that is returned back to the fish.

"We've got lots of herbs and vegetables, strawberries, cabbage, broccoli, peas, tomatoes and so much more," she said.

"We retired from farming 20 years ago, but this has been such a great hobby.

"I guess you just can't take the farm out of the farmer."

The pair operated a lucerne, crop and cattle property near Mulgildie for years and retired to their property on Bukali Scrub Rd in 1995.

Doug and Desley Kuhn's aquaponic set up at their property near Mungungo. Picture: Contributed
Doug and Desley Kuhn's aquaponic set up at their property near Mungungo. Picture: Contributed

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They unfortunately sold their property, due to the impact of the drought, in the first half of the 1990s.

Their frugality with water and recycled materials however has not faded during their retirement.

They applied their passion for sustainability to help their daughter Diane grow vegetables in Cabarita, New South Wales.

"She struggled to have her own in the beach climate, so Doug set one up here to see if it could work without the climate," Mrs Kuhn said.

"It was all made with recycled products. The growing beds were made out of old bath and laundry tubs and other recycled materials.

"The only thing new is the pump.

"My husband and I try to make use of whatever we have, especially with water being scarce for the last few decades."

 

Doug and Desley Kuhn's aquaponic set up at their property near Mungungo. Picture: Contributed
Doug and Desley Kuhn's aquaponic set up at their property near Mungungo. Picture: Contributed

Their operation doesn't use any type of chemicals. It is completely organic, according to Mrs Kuhn.

"Doug grows specific herbs and flowers as insect deterrants and we have worms in the growing beds to aid with the creation and dispersion of nutrients," she said.

After buying silver perch from Childers, the Kuhns believe the fish will be big enough to eat by Christmas.

"We'll be able to fish in our own pond pretty much," Mrs Kuhn said.

"I guess we won't have to venture up to Cania anymore!"



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