Grown using the closed-loop, organic aquaponics method, this Red Leaf Kale is coming to us from our newest local veggie grower – Fort Orchard Aquaponics (Gold Beach). There are two varieties – Red Bore (purple stems and veins with frilly leaves) and Russian Red (also purple stems and veins, but with flatter leaves) – and you’ll get one or the other, depending on availability.
So what is Aquaponics? Simply put, it is a system whereby plants grow in water instead of soil, using the waste that fish produce to create the nutrients that the plants need.
An aquaponics system works by creating a nitrogen cycle. In this cycle, the three main elements, the fish, the plants, and the bacteria, share the water. In the fish tank, fish produce high ammonia wastes. The pump carries this waste into the growing tubs, where the bacteria convert these wastes into nitrites and then into nitrates. Those nutrients then flow under the “rafts” to be taken up by the roots on the plants.
These nitrates become food for the plants to grow, and in return, the plant roots clean the water in the growing tubs before it returns to the fish tank for the fish to live. It’s a continuous cycle, where the bacteria convert fish wastes into food for the plants, and the plants clean the water for the fish.
Red Leaf Kale can be cooked in many different ways and added to all kinds of dishes, making it super easy to get more greens into your diet. Kale works in salads, too, provided it’s either “baby” kale, or it’s chopped up good. To store: rinse, pat dry, trim any bad spots, and store in the bottom crisper drawer wrapped in paper towels.