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Business hopes to whet Valley appetite for aquaponics

PHOENIX — A Valley company is working on a way to grow food without soil in the desert on a large scale.

Rightrac deals in aquaponics.

“Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture, which is fish farming and shrimp farming, and hydroponics, which is growing food without soil,” said Rightrac’s George Brooks.

“The fish provide nutrients to the plants, and the plants clean up the water for the fish, making it practicle and sustainable.”

Brooks and his business partner, Jim Hicks, formed the company in 1998 and have been working on the system to produce food in the Valley. Their prototype is in Brooks’ backyard.

“The tank, as you see, is a mini-pool that is ten feet across,” said Brooks. “I bought it from Walgreens for $89.”

The tank has plenty of fish, including goldfish and tilapia.

Food and flowers occupy the the other side of the tank.

“We have tomatoes, we have soybeans,” Brooks said. “We have flowers. We wanted to see if we could grow flowers, so we have cosmos, marigolds, and xenias.”

Rightrac also has a converted pool minifarm in south Phoenix that helps kids in the Roosevelt School District learn more about the project.

The company hopes to have a website up by the end of the week.