Church hosts "fish farm", urban garden to combat Toledo hunger
South Toledo, Ohio (WNWO)-- Though you can't see it from the road, attached to University Church in South Toledo is a gold mine.
Fruits, vegetables, chickens, and tucked in the greenhouses inside tanks-- over two thousand fish.
Fishgate was started after owner Andy Howard's love for fish.
He realized the same systems used for fish tanks could be replicated on a large scale and so he created a fish farm.
Realizing that Fishgate paid for itself after "pond fish"--fish that clean up the algae in small bodies of water-- were sold, Howard gave away the leftover fish as food and then decided to expand his efforts.
Thus came the partnership with the University church in South Toledo.
Working with their head gardener Scott Delaney, Fishgate is expanding to help local food shelters such as Food for Thought.
Last year the church distributed 30,000 pounds of produce feeding 3,000 families.
This year they want to double that amount; both in produce and in fish.
Delaney plans to expand the fish by nearly 18,000 in the coming months and to help with the amount of water it's going to take to fill the tanks, the Church wants to put in two wells and an irrigation system.
Fishgate also employs convicted felons, having them clean out the tanks and work with the aquaponics sytem, teaching them entrepreneur and social skills.
Antwan Matthews is one of the program's success stories; he's now one of the leaders of Fishgate as well as an HR director.
Fishgate is also working with Toledo Public Schools and Marion Prison to breed and raise fish before they grow them larger at the farms.
They plan to expand to add two additional greenhouses .
The gardens are all run by volunteers and everything is free.
People can contribute by donating or by volunteering in the garden at 4747 Hill Ave.
To donate to the garden you can visit their website HERE for crowdfunding efforts.