Hydroponic and Aquaponic Food Production

Some of the facilities are available for rent. 

Please contact Cabrillo's Facilities Use and Events Coordinator at (831) 479-6332.

The Horticulture faculty do not schedule the facility.


Our hydroponic, substrate and aquaponics production systems were in response to our students requests.

Our goal is to provide valuable hands-on training and theory in producing high quality food crops indoors and out.

Hydroponics and aquaponics are great ways to teach science and can lead to increased student interests in STEM.

We offer a class each semester.

Students taking the class harvest produce each week, test water parameters, train the tomatoes, plant basil and lettuce as well as mix fertilizers.

A recent report (2012) indicated that over 1 million acres of food production are under cover around the world.


The progression of our system is classic of a small business expanding and finding better ways to do things. It also has expanded so the classes with a 3 hr lab could handle all the student activities. Another goal is happy customers. Almost all of our produce is sold at the Farmers Market on Saturdays.


Our second system moved into a hoop house. We set up a deep raft and NFT system. They worked great, but we quickly learned that this hoop house had very little "control".


So we moved across the road to the large greenhouse and now occupy 3600 sqft

Our latest systems includes cluster tomatoes in bato buckets producing fruit from Oct to June. You can see them in the top image.

We also have Basil and sometimes lettuce in our NFT system using commercial computers and channels.


We have grown microgreens for the college culinary arts program.


The interest in Aquaponics came about because students were asking about organic ways of doing hydroponcs. So we jumped right in.

Aquaponics combines fish, bacteria and plants into a system that converts fish food into edible (or ornamental) food, and plants.

Different types of systems are better for different types of crops. We are currently focusing on water based systems.


The UVI model uses Tilapia which are not legal here so we are using koi.


Our system is a scaled version of the system developed by the University of the Virgin Islands. This is the industry standard and has been shown to be productive for over 30 years. It is a high fish density system. We currently produce 140-180 heads of lettuce per week.


We are growing organic substrate blueberries outdoors in high tunnels donated by Driscolls.