Ring in Spring with Edible Flowers!

Trend Aquafresh

Let’s ignore the fact that – almost a month into spring – this weather has been decidedly cold and sometimes snowy. It’s spring in our hearts and maybe on our plates – and what better way to celebrate spring with beautiful edible flowers and herbs? Trend Aquafresh is the latest in our Sow and Tell series. Mini pansies, butterfly leaves, lemon thyme and Moroccan mint are on sale, for all deliveries from April 17th to April 20th, 2018! Find them in the ‘sale’ category on our website.

row of tiny orange and red nasturtium plants in a greenhouse

What’s their story?

Trend Aquafresh is a large aquaponic facility located in Niagara-on-the-lake, and is owned by Ton and Jackie Boekstyn. Ton emigrated from the Netherlands to Canada in 1987, and established a successful cut flower and potted plant business, with his flowers oftentimes being exported to Europe. Eventually, Ton and Jackie decided they wanted to shift their focus in 2014. Instead of growing cut flowers exported overseas, they wanted to become certified organic and build an aquaponic facility to cultivate fresh, vibrant, and tasty edible flowers, herbs, and greens for local markets! We began working with Trend in 2016 and immediately loved the beauty and hefty flavour of their products.

Back in the summer, our team took some trips out to tour the facility and spend some time chatting with Ton. Ton told us that building an organic, aquaponic facility was a huge challenge, and at times they felt overwhelmed with their task. The hard work has paid off but, even now, they are the only facility of its kind in Ontario, and possibly even in Canada!

We explored the huge facility with Ton, trying little bits of herbs and flowers as he explained how his operation works. Ton found it particularly amusing to watch us try some of the more unique products with strong flavours, laughing to himself about our reactions! Ton has a great sense of humour and really knows his stuff. He also wants to share his knowledge – if he wasn’t running Trend – he would spend his time doing research and assisting others in learning how to become more self-sufficient. Ton is also very experimental and loves growing rarer herbs and greens; agretti and sea asparagus have been previously included in his rotation.

smiling farmer wearing a dark shirt standing in a greenhouse

What does aquaponic growing mean, exactly?

By now, you’re probably wondering what exactly aquaponic growing is and how Trend does it! Since I’m by no means an expect, and since we were a bit busy climbing past massive fish tanks during our visit to take extensive notes, I’m going to include a helpful excerpt from this handy website I found:

‘The standard aquaponics unit works by creating a nitrogen cycle. In this system, water is shared between a fish tank and grow beds. In the fish tank, fish produce waste that is high in ammonia content. Pumps carry this waste to the growing beds, where bacteria process it into an extremely rich fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen. The vegetables extract the nitrogen from the water, making the water safe for reintroduction to the fish tank. This cycle repeats over and over, with the fish providing the basic nutrition for bacteria, the bacteria providing nutrition for plants and plants acting as a bio-filter for the fish. All that’s left for you to do is feed the fish and decide which plants you should grow.’

I get the sense that this makes it sound more straightforward than it is at the scale Trend does it – Ton pointed out all the various monitoring computer systems that help him and his team track the chemical balance – but he assured us it’s still a lot of work to ensure the closed cycle can continue as optimally as possible.

different trays of red and green seedlings in a greenhouse

So – now’s your chance – have a peek at Trend’s extensive offering and try out some organic, aquaponically grown products! The sale runs from April 17th to 20th, for all deliveries!

By: Genrys Goodchild