Aquaponic Gardening

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Alternative feeds for the Southern US and other tropical areas


I have been delayed in getting started here because the Easter period in Mexico is our most intensive Tilapia sales period from February 15 - April 8th. I have had and have nevertheless, every intention of developing this current "note" much further ASAP. Meantime, I would file this one under Feed Alternatives for aquaculture  but also very strongly under Food Independence/Security for our fellow humans as well.

I would like to very briefly introduce (perhaps to many) an incredible plant native to our Yucatán peninsula, and farther south into Central and South America, called "Chaya". Locally, it is also called Mountain, or sometimes, "Mayan Tree Spinach". It is highly nutritious, tastes great (if you like spinach!) grows like a weed, is droudt resistant, tolerates high temps, and is not very vulnerable at all to pests and plagues which is saying a great deal considering the aggressive/challenging natural environment which exists here in the far south of Mexico.

For an excellent intro on this plant, I would recommend Googling "Wikipedia Chaya" and/or "Yucatán Mountain Tree Spinach". I am sure for the uninitiated, you will be suitably impressed and inspired. I am not sure as yet what the geographic distribution of Chaya is outside of Latina America but I know they are now growing it commercially in Texas, USA and may well be growing it as well in many other tropical and subtropical areas around our planet. With just a basic intro, I think you will agree that this is a valuable resource not only for aquaculturists but also for our other fellow humans.

Here is the URL from a company in Texas that is now commercializing Chaya stateside:

In terms of alternative fish feed, our local university has published (in English) a recent study which found that Chaya can be used effectively as up to a 50% replacement for commercial, fish-meal-based fish feed without altering the extent or speed of growth of fish (Tilapia) in commercial grow-out operations.

 Let me say up front that I have no illusions that Chaya will ever make much of an impact in the area of vertically integrated, mega-multinational, commercial feed production. Nor do I see that especially as a desired goal. What I do see however is that this may be a way to help grass-roots, aquaculture and other agricultural producers escape being enslaved (literally) by the costs and profits of those same multi-nationals that increasingly preclude millions annualy from participating, even on a subsistence or hobby level, in this growing and and increasingly important industry.


I am sure the Mayan people of the Yucatán, et al,  have been staying healthy on this quite amazing plant for several thousands of least. I am very excited to share this brief introduction with fellow members and hope you will find it of interest both in terms of fish feed empowerment but also in terms of concomitant possibilities for our fellow humans, and aquapons(?) as well.

We welcome all comments always and especially those with any experience with this plant and especially those who may have had some exposure farther a field beyond Latin America. I am sure this plant would thrive in the southern US, Hawaii, much of Africa, and certainly Asia, so let´s put our heads together and see what we can do here to spread the wealth and gift that our Mayan predisessors left us and still today enjoy, shall we?

Saludos cordiales
Ing. Gil Romero

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Comment by steve on March 26, 2012 at 6:30am

Thanks Gil, Very interesting. I have located some here, now to see if they will part with a few cuttings.

Comment by Carey Ma on March 25, 2012 at 12:23pm

Well it seems like a wonderful plant to tr but apparently from what I've just read, it is an Americas thing and not native to Asia though the leaf shape is somewhat familiar looking. Secondly since I'm in zone seven type climate it would be kind of a pain and since the flowers are sterial, can only import live plants...kind of a pain. Now on the flip side, I may get some contracts down south next year so I'll def keep it in mind. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.


Comment by Gil Romero on March 24, 2012 at 8:38pm

PS: Isn´t this GREAT????????





Comment by Gil Romero on March 24, 2012 at 8:37pm

United we stand ....mis compañeros!

We´ll work it out!

Back ASAP......




Guillermo Romero

Comment by Gil Romero on March 24, 2012 at 11:27am

Wow! Got it Carey!


Let me see what I can do. This could be interesting! Meantime, let´s up the anti a tad and suggest that you google the amazing Moringa tree which , if you live in tropical, rice growing China should or quite probably already is...doing very well there. You won´t be disappointed, I promise you!

These are the kinds of interesting projects that make me regret I have so little (Try "No") free time!


Suggestion: Go to Wiki on the Chaya and get the scientific name. Try searching in China or Viet Nam  Chaya and/or it´s scientific name . It may well be already there and that would be the best of all possible solutions for you. With all of their greast needs in so many areas I would be surprised if thay had not already picked up and zeroed in on Chaya. I would be fairly surprised if it was not also in Viet Nam as well.........altghough further that even if it is that may not help you much but it is a lot closer than Mexico!


Let me see anbout what I can do for you about seeds........


Let me know what you find out online, OK?






Comment by Patti Taylor on March 24, 2012 at 11:18am
Thank you Gil for putting out this great info.Carey I'll see if I can locate some seeds when I'm in Reynoso next week , keep you posted.
Comment by Carey Ma on March 24, 2012 at 11:05am

Gil, I live in communist, mainland China so live plants are out of the question. Seeds however are getting through without much problems. I would be glad to reimburse your expenses. 


Comment by Gil Romero on March 24, 2012 at 4:36am

Possible Chaya sources in Texas USA:

Chaya Corp caché - Similares - Traducir esta página

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PRODUCTS · ALL ABOUT CHAYA · CONTACT US ... Chaya Available Here. Our website is ... Chaya Corp • 3102 West Wilson Road • Harlingen • Texas • 78552.

Farm - Garden: Chaya Tree Spinach '' The Mayan Miracle Plant ... caché - Traducir esta página

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29 Feb 2012 – Texas, Farm - Garden - Post Your Free Classified Ad Today! ... my family and myself, we have been eating Chaya Leaves cooked and RAW for ...

Biospharms :: Chaya caché - Traducir esta página

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... called "chaya" in south Texas, is popular in Mexico and Central America and has been introduced into the United States (mainly South Texas and Florida) for ...

Comment by Gil Romero on March 24, 2012 at 4:34am

Than you Alex for bringing that inexplicable  URL glitch to my attention! You can find the site I thought was still listed in my blog piece on Google search under "Chaya farms Texas" There are actually several listed so with just a very little effort you may well find exactly what you are looking for. I am going to cut and paste on the following comment.  If they don´t work here, you can also find them on my corrected blog piece, ASAP. Thanks again!



Comment by Patti Taylor on March 23, 2012 at 10:40pm is the only contact info I found on the site Gil.Do you know if they ship or is it just local pickup?Definitely ordering a chaya omelet when i cross the border next week.

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