Bad Certification News from Canada

A negative situation is brewing in Canada that could spread across borders and set back aquaponics’ progress worldwide.

CanadaGAP, a government-recognized food safety certification program, stated that it will withdraw CanadaGAP certification for Aquaponic production effective March 31, 2020.

Unfortunately, the decision appears to be based on faulty and/or incomplete information:

“New information has come to light related to potential chemical hazards (antibiotics, for example) associated with aquaponic production. Further, there may be potential for leafy greens to uptake possible contaminants found in the water from the aquaculture production. Unfortunately, peer-reviewed scientific studies are limited at this time.”

This decision strikes at the heart of all aquaponic growers. We must publish and maintain trustworthy information about our practice to ensure institutional support, rather than opposition.

The Aquaponics Association is currently working with experts to compile the information needed to counter the false assumptions. We will make this information public as soon as possible. Please stay tuned.

In the meantime, do you have information or data that supports the food safety of aquaponics? Email us at community@aquaponicsassociation.org.

At the Putting Out Fruits Conference this September 20-22, we will talk about actions we can take together to support the advancement of aquaponics. And we’ll discuss what our message needs to be to food safety regulators and other policy-makers that affect our practice.

We’re all in this together!

Brian Filipowich, Chairman
Aquaponics Association

Aquaponics in Prisons (3/3) — Salad is a Big Deal

Officer Michael “Mac” McLeon is using aquaponics to improve the Texas Prison System.  We interviewed Mac and uncovered three key points about aquaponics in prisons. In the first post of this series, we discussed the first point: aquaponics in prisons saves taxpayers money. Next, we talked about the power of aquaponics to rehabilitate offenders. In this post, we discuss a point that many take for granted: salad is a big deal.

If you’ve been eating salad your whole life, you probably don’t think of salad too much. But if you’re working on a prison in a desert, like Officer Mac, you start to realize how great salad is.

In a prison system, the Officers eat the same meals as the inmates. A typical meal for the group might be cornbread, baked beans, and hot dogs. But Mac’s unit is changing that. They now use aquaponics to produce a large healthy salad including tomatoes and cucumbers once every two weeks for the entire group. He is halfway to his goal of a salad per week.

Mac says there is a noticeably lighter mood on the days when they eat their salad. Everyone appreciates the ultra-fresh food and feels better after the meal.

Fresh salad would normally not be possible in the dry, isolated land around the prison. With aquaponics, agriculture is possible in any environment.

Mac also notes that many inmates are from the inner city and have never eaten fresh salad in their entire lives. Now in prison they are eating a fresh salad once every two weeks thanks to aquaponics. Mac says there is a “eureka” moment when someone eats a salad for the first time. They say they finally realize why people on TV and the movies are always eating salad.

The bottom line: don’t take salad for granted. As the world populations grows and environmental challenges mount, we will be relying on aquaponics for a lot more of our salad.

The Aquaponics Association has been supporting Mac in his efforts to spread aquaponics to prisons nationwide. Recently, Aquaponics Association Senior Advisor Kate Wildrick interview Mac.

See the full Mac interview

Mac will be at our Putting Out Fruits Conference this September 20-22 at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, KY. Come check it out!

The Conference Center at Kentucky State University Organic Research and Demonstration Farm

Every year the Aquaponic Association has contracted with a major big city hotel to accommodate the conference. That’s the model for just about every conference right? So you may be asking why change? For the 2019 AA Conference Putting Out Fruits, we will be going down on the farm. We are so very excited to have a beautifully refreshing change of pace through partnering with Kentucky State University, located in Frankfurt KY for this year’s conference. The Conference center is a quick 10 minute drive from the Capital Plaza hotel and other KSU aquaculture facilities that we will be touring on Friday. 

Named the Center for Sustainability of Farms and Families, the 12,000 sq ft conference facility was opened in 2010 with a focus on serving the community through education, farm shows, research, demonstration and agriculture/aquaculture workshops. The conference venue offers breathtaking views of over 300 acres of organic agriculture land that is utilized by this land grant university to raise goats and sheep, paw paw trees, research hemp, fruit and nut trees, biofuels, agroforestry and so much more. Being an education facility they are well outfitted for presentations, with projection and audio equipment, recording capabilities and internet service. 

What I love about the venue is that the space is perfect to enjoy the conference program, connect with other participants, network with vendors and at the same time easily enjoy the open space, with sunlight through floor to ceiling windows, and fresh air on the expansive patio. The conference space will bring everyone together in one large room for opening presentation, keynote address and the board meeting on Sunday. The rooms will be transformed into three smaller spaces for breakout sessions focused on Commercial and Community Aquaponics, Home, Hobby and Hands on Activities, as well as School, STEM and Research.  Vendor spaces along the entryway and adjoining hallway will offer an opportunity to meet industry leaders, see the latest and greatest products, learn about education opportunities, and meet the folks who serve this growing aquaponics market. 

September is the perfect time of year to enjoy a little time in the country, with a slower pace, cooler temperatures, and the beautiful colors of fields and forests bursting with abundance. We will also be enjoying a farm to table dinner at the conference center Saturday evening with foods harvested from the aquaculture facility and right from the farm (more on that later)…

Looking forward to seeing familiar friends and meeting new people who are all excited about aquaponics. Space is limited, so get your TICKETS now!

Tawnya Sawyer
Board Member & Conference Planner

Aquaponics Association

 

Conference Theme Announcement: Putting Out Fruits

This year’s Aquaponics Association Annual Conference theme is “Putting Out Fruits”. Putting Out Fruits will take place in Frankfort, Kentucky at Kentucky State University on September 20 – 22nd, 2019. 

Head to the Putting Out Fruits homepage for ticket info. (http://bit.ly/2UuUzxz)

The aquaponics movement is expanding rapidly, and the Aquaponics Association’s annual conferences are growing along with it. Two years ago we were in Portland, Oregon for “Putting Down Roots”; and last year we were in Hartford, Connecticut for “Putting Up Shoots”. Finally, this year’s theme reflects the culmination of our journey as we take the next step learning and growing together. We will produce tangible “fruits” to advance the practice of aquaponics, both for individual growers and for the aquaponics movement as a whole.

A major component of the Conference will be the tour and interactive session at the KSU Aquaculture Research Center. This Center hosts one of the most advanced aquaculture research programs in the nation, including indoor aquaponics research systems, saltwater aquaponics research, a 30’ x 70’ aquaponics demonstration greenhouse, a 10,000sq foot recirculating aquaculture research building, and 33 research ponds.

We’ve heard from many of you through our online survey [thank you for your input!] and we are excited to focus this year’s content around the following hot topics:

–    Integrated pest management

–    Nutrient deficiencies and nutrient supplementation

–    STEM curriculum and classroom aquaponics

–    Growing cannabis in controlled environments

–    Food safety

–    Organic certification

–    International case studies

–    “Green” solution applications

–    Successes with higher risk / higher reward and non-typical crops in aquaponics

–    Post-secondary aquaponics research

Conference attendees will walk away with cutting edge information, new connections and a greater understanding of core knowledge and best practices. In addition to farm-to-table tours and hands on activities, learning tracks will focus on Aquaponics Research, STEM Education, hobby/home aquaponics, commercial farming, and community based endeavors. Interactive sessions will allow all participants to discuss and plan what we can do together to advance aquaponics.

As always, the Conference will feature top aquaponics experts and a vendor showroom of aquaponics technology and services.

We are also still looking for presenters to cover the following topics: aquaculture and fish diseases (recognition and treatment); filtration and biofiltration; automation of aquaponics systems (feeding, monitoring, etc.); and case studies of successful small / medium / large growing facilities. Please submit presentation proposals by July 15.

To purchase your ticket and/or to submit a presentation proposal, please visit https://aquaponicsassociation.org/2019-conference/.

We hope to see you in Kentucky!

Kate Wildrick
Senior Advisor & Conference Planner
Aquaponics Association

Aquaponics in Prisons (2/3) — Rehabilitating Offenders

Officer Michael “Mac” McLeon is using aquaponics to improve the Texas Prison System.  We interviewed Mac and uncovered three key points about aquaponics in prisons. In the first post of this series, we discussed the first point: aquaponics in prisons saves taxpayers money. In this post, we discuss how aquaponics is rehabilitating offenders in the prison population.

In one school of thought, incarceration is punishment for wrongs committed. But another perspective is that incarceration is an opportunity for inmates to rehabilitate themselves so they can productively and peacefully re-enter society. Aquaponics is proving to be a valuable tool in rehabilitating inmates.

Aquaponics gives offenders a challenging, productive way to use their time. And, very importantly, it equips inmates with a productive skill to use upon release.

Mac notes that aquaponics provides skills in agriculture, construction, nutrition, landscaping, and water management. These are skills that are extremely valuable as the growing organic / local movement progresses. These are skills that will give inmates a better chance at securing jobs AND at being able to supply healthy food for themselves.

In addition to skill-development, aquaponics is good for inmates physical and mental health. By learning aquaponics and growing plants from seed to harvest, inmates develop a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

The Aquaponics Association has been supporting Mac in his efforts to spread aquaponics to prisons nationwide. Recently, Aquaponics Association Senior Advisor Kate Wildrick interview Mac.

See the full Mac interview

Stay tuned for our third and final key takeaway from our interview with Mac.

Aquaponics in Prisons (1/3) — Saving Taxpayers Money

Officer Michael “Mac” McLeon is using aquaponics to transform the Texas Prison System.

Mac’s team set a goal to use aquaponics and grow a salad per day for their entire unit, including inmates AND the officers since they share the same meals. They are currently well on their way to the goal – at one salad every two weeks.

And this is not some limp-leaved lump of soggy lettuce… these are good salads! (see pic below). In addition to lettuce, the program also grows sun-loving fruiting crops like tomatoes and cucumbers, and fresh herbs for the dressing!

The Aquaponics Association has been supporting Mac in his efforts to spread aquaponics to prisons nationwide. Recently, Aquaponics Association Senior Advisor Kate Wildrick interview Mac and uncovered three key takeaways.

Check out the Exclusive Interview with Officer Mac: How Aquaponics is Transforming the Texas Prison System  (http://bit.ly/2HE7zJI)

Aquaponics in Prisons Saves Taxpayer Money

Macs interview revealed three key points. In this post, we’ll discuss the first key point: aquaponics in prisons can save taxpayers money in a variety of ways.

For starters, aquaponics directly reduces the amount of food that prisons must purchase by supplementing meals with onsite produce. The cost to grow crops inside the prison is minimal. Mac estimates that he saves the State of Texas $0.40 for every head of lettuce they grow. Imagine how much they could save Texas taxpayers with a bigger operation!

In addition to the direct savings of growing their own food, aquaponics in prisons can save taxpayers money in two major long-term ways: 1) lower inmate healthcare costs from dietary based diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure; and 2) reduced recidivism by giving inmates a meaningful, rewarding skill they can employ once released.

In some states, the cost per inmate can be up to $60,000 per year. Mac notes that most inmates will one day be released. Aquaponics can give these citizens a positive skill to keep them from backsliding into the system, which is a major cost.

Stay tuned for the next two Key Points of Aquaponics in Prisons!

Take the Global Aquaponic Practitioner Survey

Click: Head to the Global Aquaponic Practitioner Survey

A group of researchers from the University of Washington on an international project – Cityfood – is running a global aquaponics survey.

This survey will provide researchers with real-world information about existing aquaponic systems and farms which define current practices. Using results from this survey, researchers aim to connect and empower aquaponic farmers, researchers and decision-makers.

The survey only takes 15-20 minutes to complete and will help researchers compile a report on the state of the field. As a participant, you will receive access to the report immediately after its release.

The Cityfood interdisciplinary team of aquaculture specialists, architects, and urban planners is jointly supported by the US National Science Foundation and the EU Sustainable Urbanisation Global Initiative/ Belmont Forum. This cohort sees aquaponics as a promising technology that can simultaneously address global challenges in the food, water, and energy sectors.

Survey link: https://redcap.csde.washington.edu/surveys/index.php?s=FRK4HKX78L

New Aquaponics Report from ATTRA

ATTRA just published a report: Aquaponics – Multitrophic Systems for Food Production. This Report introduces aquaponic systems, discusses economics and getting started, and includes an extensive list of resources that point the reader to print and online educational materials for further technical assistance. The Report is free to download here: http://bit.ly/2UckGKf

ATTRA is a sustainable agriculture program developed and managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology.

Aquaponics Association Chairman Brian Filipowich was interviewed by author Lee Rinehart to give background information for the Report. Check out the podcast recording: http://bit.ly/2Fgh1lW

Environmental Report Urges Food System Changes

A new report Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform On Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services urges changes in our current food system.

The Report values the services that our natural ecosystems provide: clean water, clean air, and pollination. We take these services for granted, but population growth and economic growth are impairing the planet’s ability to perform these functions.

Mark Rounsevell, Professor at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, stated: “The food system is the root of the problem. The cost of ecological degradation is not considered in the price we pay for food, yet we are still subsidizing fisheries and agriculture.”

New highly efficient grow methods like aquaponics, hydroponics, and aeroponics can reduce the space needed to grow food. These methods, particularly when practiced vertically, will leave more of our natural ecosystem intact to perform its life-sustaining services!