Mari’s Gardens is a family owned business, supplying locally grown produce and plants to our Island since 2008.
Originally, Mari’s Gardens was a plant nursery to supply Fred Lau’s commercial landscaping business. In 2010, Fred’s son, Brendon Lau, graduated from the UH CTAHR program and convinced him that they should be growing food as well as plants. Fred traveled around the world to educate himself on how other countries grow produce and experimented with over a hundred different varieties of Lettuce to find the ones best suited for optimum taste and greenhouse growing in Hawaii. Aquaponic and Hydroponic systems were the chosen method of growing due to its highly sustainable nature. We wanted to grow in a way that conserved water and had maximum production while utilizing the least amount of land and resources.
Our mission is to promote sustainable living, urban farming, and buying local. We are dedicated to using aquaponic and hydroponic growing techniques to produce high quality vegetables, fruits, and fish for our community. We also grow a wide variety of ornamental plants for indoors and outdoors.
With limited natural resources, a delicate ecological system, and high costs of agricultural lands and electricity in Hawaii, Mari’s Gardens has turned to the most sustainable, technologically progressive methods of farming to join local farmers in the goal of attaining food security for our islands.
Our Commitment to Hawaii
As the largest Aquaponic farm in Hawaii, we feel that it is our responsibility to set the highest quality of standards for this emerging industry. We take great pride in knowing that our employees are 100% committed to our Food Safety Plan (FSP), which includes strict adherence to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP). You can be assured that our produce is both safe and healthy for you and your loved ones.
We believe that by being completely transparent about all of our operations, our customers can be confident in our products.
When owner Fred Lau first opened Mari’s Gardens in 2007, he had one thing on his mind, “to provide locally grown produce to the people of Hawaii while having the least amount of impact on the Aina”. After many months of research, aquaponics and hydroponics were the chosen methods of farming due to its reduction of food miles, low water usage, and its many other environmental benefits.
Aquaponics combines the methods of growing plants hydroponically and growing fish through aquaculture. Our aquaculture tanks are stocked with fish such as Tilapia, Swai, and Chinese Catfish. We reuse the water from the fish to nurture our high-quality plant products. We pride ourselves on our farming methods being sustainable, organically certified, and food safety certified. Three acres of our premier growing destination is dedicated solely to commercial aquaponics farming. We utilize two different Aquaponics techniques, including Ebb-and-Flow Systems and Dutch Bucket Systems.
Due to its simple yet effective design, the Ebb-and-Flow system is by far the most popular aquaponics system. It is relatively easy to maintain while it produces in abundance. Normally, the system consists of two main components – a fish tank and a grow-bed. The nutrient rich water is pumped up into the grow-bed which then feeds the plants. Once the water reaches the desired level, the bell siphon is activated and the grow-bed is completely drained. This flood and drain process allows oxygen to get to the root of each plant, while ensuring that the plant roots will not rot.
Dutch Bucket System
The Dutch Bucket is one of the most commonly used containers for holding plants in indoor growing systems. These buckets allow for a single watering line as well as a single drainage line for multiple media beds when they are lined up together. This system can be used to grow almost any type of plant indoors, however, they are especially useful for vining crops such as tomatoes or cucumbers (shown in photos). This is due to the fact that vining plants are able to be trained to grow either vertically or horizontally, which allows for easy monitoring and easy harvesting.
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without the use of soil. This method of growing offers plants consistent access to nutrients, water, and air. The nutrients in our hydroponic systems come from an array of sources which include the byproduct from fish waste and chelated nutrients. By closely controlling the water and nutrients the plants receive, our plants are able to grow into healthier and tastier products. Although hydroponics is unable to be considered organically certified, our hydroponic vegetables are grown in controlled greenhouses without the use of any synthetic pesticides. We utilize two different Hydroponic methods, including NFT and Aeroponics.
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
NFT is one of the most common hydroponic techniques for growing due to its fairly simple design. However, we have combined this decades old hydroponic method with our modern aquaculture systems to create a highly sustainable growing environment. We have found that this system is best suited to grow our wide varieties of leafy greens.
Aeroponics is a variation of a hydroponic system. It is the process of growing plants in an air/mist environment without the use of any soil/aggregate medium. The nutrient rich water flows to the top of the towers. A timer is responsible for turning the water on and off. Therefore, during this process the roots are exposed to both air and nutrients. The reservoir located at the base collects the water and sends it to a pump that circulates the water back to the top of the tower, making this method of growing both space efficient and highly sustainable.
This Hybridized Aquaponic/Hydroponics system is our unique design. Our proprietary hybrid system combines the best of hydroponic and aquaponic growing methods. It is a decoupled system which allows nutrients to be shared from the fish tanks to the NFT channels. The nutrient-rich water from the fish tanks fertilize the plants while the space-saving hydroponic NFT method allows the plants to grow. Therefore, the fish and vegetables are working together, reflected in our slogan “growing in balance.”
Our farm utilizes Aquaponic, Hydroponic, and Hybrid farming methods. We are constantly improving our systems by testing and modifying the latest, most effective technologies in order to grow large quantities of high quality produce for our islands. We believe in transparency and we encourage you, as a consumer, to be aware of where your food is from and how your food is grown. Learn more about our growing techniques below!