MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Humans run on five vital organs; brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, and heart.
For Austin Avery and his son, Josiah, their kidneys dragged behind.
“Our son was diagnosed with Polycystic kidney disease at birth and my husband also has the same kind of disease,” said Laresia Avery, Fish-N-Loaves Community Outreach Director and Josiah’s mother.
Luckily, the Averys’ brains power determination and their hearts are full of generosity, which proved to be a lot stronger. They turned to a plant-based diet, moved back to Frayser, and started an Aquaponics Center to grow healthy foods for the community.
“So, inside of there is a solar-powered generator which powers most of the equipment in there,” said Austin Avery III, Fish-N-Loaves Community Executive Director. “We’re going to raise tilapia as well as grow snap beans, bell peppers, kale, cabbage, spinach, and basil.”
The center will feed 30 to 50 families weekly.
“It doesn’t need to be our family, but if we can get the access to other families in the community, that would be great,” said Laresia.
Whatever is left over does not go to waste.
“We put it in the composting bin, so it can compost, and it can be used as fertilizer out here,” said Austin.
Westside Elementary School will also help out and learn the process.
“It’s one thing to learn about it in school, but to be able to have a hands-on physical touch and see the fish in there, to see the ecosystem of how the aquaponics works,” said Laresia.
The kids will be growing a connection to STEM careers.
Also, Josiah does his part as well, proving even those with the smallest organs can make the biggest impact.
It’s an impact that the American Heart Association has been advocating for across the country.
“Tennessee, Memphis, is among the worst states unfortunately when it comes to heart health. Death rates are among the highest in Tennessee from cardiovascular disease. We’re in the stroke belt here,” said Bruce Inverso, American Heart Association Senior Vice President of Health Strategies.
They are partnering with Fish-N-Loaves, The Care Foundation, and Christ Community Health Services for the center. A large portion of the families benefiting from the program are Christ Community Health Services patients.
“They have 4,000 patients where they have diabetes or high blood pressure. They flag those patients and they send them out to us, and they get healthy food and meals,” said Austin.
“Reduce hunger – that’s what it’s all about, because if people can eat healthier, if people can have more fitness, if people can have access to better healthcare, that is going to improve lives,” said Inverso.
The Community Aquaponics Center will open early spring.