Pigs: Montfort Boys Town, Fiji
Before 1996, Montfort Boy's Town, a school for disadvantaged boys
in Suva, Fiji, taught students how to raise both food and funds by
farming fish in ponds. In 1996, ZERI and Professor George Chan
arrived, proposing a new integrated farming system that would expand
their current efforts into FIVE healthy new enterprises by simply
gathering the waste generated by a local brewery. These new revenue
streams would provide food, jobs and energy and give students
valuable experience with leading edge farming practices, while
providing a new model for their country's fragile economy. Sound too
good to be true?
By 1997 the system described below was in place...
students at Montfort Boys' Town collect the sludge from the local
brewery in Suva. This free input of barley mash becomes perfect
substrate on which to grow mushrooms. This provides a local food
source and more practical skills for the students.
The substrate, mixed with rice straw or sawdust, is inoculated
with fungus spores. As the mushrooms grow, they produce an enzyme
that unlocks the protein in the grain, transforming it into
nutritious animal feed. After the mushrooms have been harvested, the
substrate is fed to pigs, eliminating the need to buy feed.
waste from the pigs is collected and sent through a biodigester, a
simple device that allows for treatment of solids and separation of
gas. The methane gas from the biodigester is captured, bottled and
used as an energy source for lighting and cooking.
The biodigester is the heart of the system, removing over 60% of
the BOD (biological oxygen demand) and COD (chemical oxygen demand)
of the waste within 3 to 6 days through anaerobic processes.
After the waste has gone through the biodigester, the remaining
40% of the BOD and COD is handled by using aerobic processes in
shallow pools. The output of this process is algae, which becomes
perfect feed for the adjacent fish ponds, accommodating a wide
variety of fish.
dykes surrounding the fish ponds are covered with a polyculture of
various high-protein and fast-growing crops that require minimum
attention. This biodiversity on the dykes also serves the crucial
function of providing biological control of "pests,"
preventing the use of toxic chemicals.
Up to half of the surface of the pond is also being used to grow
crops hydroponically, creating more local food, additional income
and valuable experience for the students.
is important to note that the human resources involved in this
system are crucial to its healthy functioning and evolution; the
boys living on site maintain and operate the mushrooms, pigs,
biodigester, fish ponds and hydroculture. This provides an
opportunity for the boys to see the system expand and change in
co-evolution with nature, a key concept for both Mother Earth and
ZERI. Montfort Boys' Town has converted its' vocational training
school into a center for sustainable development, ensuring that each
student comes away with in-depth knowledge and experience with how
systems can be designed to create abundance while enhancing the
George Chan's system in Fiji is an elegant example of how we can
do so much more with what we already have, eliminating the idea of
waste. Abundance in action!
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