YWAM Emerge’s Aquaponics Program Has Global Impact

COLORADO SPRINGS— YWAM Emerge’s aquaponics program, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is creating a global model that is being replicated throughout the world. The program helps local ministries to generate income and a healthy food source that is sustainable and reproducible.

Josh Emhoffdirector of YWAM Emerge:

When my wife and I decided to start YWAM Emerge, we had a lot of people that didn’t really understand because growing vegetables really doesn’t fit into the model of seeing people reached around the world for the gospel.

Josh Emhoff is director of YWAM Emerge, an international ministry that combines cutting-edge technology and innovative food production.

Here on the Front Range of Colorado, Youth with a Mission Emerge is training young people who are devoting their lives to Christian ministry, ministry that provides nourishment for both the body and the soul. And it all starts at this greenhouse and aquaponics operation that serves as a prototype for what they hope will be similar facilities in every corner of the world.


We feed the fish and then as the fish eat, they create ammonia. And so then the ammonia goes into our filtration, turns into nitrites and then it turns into nitrates, which the plants love the nitrates and that’s what they use to grow.

So aquaponics is taking two different things, aquaculture which is the fish side and then the hydroponics, we take those two things put them together and then the fish which is the aquaculture side actually creates all the fertilizer to grow all the plants.

Now we can go into a village and we can actually create a great protein source and great food through the lettuce and and the leafy greens that we grow.

And as we built this, we really felt like we were supposed to reproduce this around the world. How do we get something to go global. How do we make it transferable.

This system behind me was specifically designed to help church planters and pastors that wanna get trained, but then they can actually make enough money to fund their church, their orphanage, their children’s home, widows’ homes, they could actually run these and fund their operational costs and feed their community really great food.

YWAM staff members and their children work alongside volunteers and students attending a discipleship training school. Together they harvest 4,000 heads of lettuce each week. During the pandemic, all of that lettuce was distributed locally at no charge. Now it is sold at local farmers markets, to restaurants and donated to local charities.

While the crops may be different in other parts of the world, the economic model translates across regions cultures, allowing aquaponic farmers to provide for their families, communities, and ministry needs.


And then we send those people all around the world and deploy them to different countries to build. And we actually have our DTS team, our Discipleship Training School, leaving today to go build this in Southern Africa. It’s not just funding them and feeding them, but it’s also bringing the gospel and bringing faith to them in the process of building these around the world.

As the team prepares to depart for the airport and the 25-hour flight to Africa, Josh sends them off knowing that their mission is sowing seeds for others who will follow.


We now have a lot of other ministries that are coming to us saying, “We want this too. We want to feed people. We want to fund people. And we want to bring faith to people.” And this looks like a great way to do it.

About YWAM Emerge

YWAM Emerge is a non-profit organization that aims to launch local food systems around the world that reduce poverty with dignity. They use aquaponics, a sustainable method of growing fish and plants together, to create commercial enterprises that provide food security, income and empowerment for communities in need. YWAM Emerge is based in Colorado Springs, US, but operates globally with partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America. They offer training programs, internships and volunteer opportunities for anyone who wants to learn and serve with them.

Read more news on Non Profit / Faith Based Organizations, Humanitarian Services, and World Missions on Missions Box.

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