Santa Fe CC Uses Aquaponics to Feed the Community During Pandemic

By Charlie Shultz

Like all schools across the nation, Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) was thrown into a tidal wave of confusion about how to move into a new paradigm of education, food production, and distribution by the coronavirus.

We teach one of the few Aquaponic accredited courses at the college level and we were in the middle of our Advanced Aquaponics semester. Two classes of students had started managing a diverse mix of balanced aquaponic systems on campus.

Students spent the weeks before Spring Break breaking down existing systems, gathering baseline data, and rebooting systems. Transplants had just gone in, then the virus began to spread and SFCC determined students could not return to campus for the remainder of the semester. Fortunately, most of our students had plenty of hands-on experience, then all class reverted instantly to an online format.

At the same time, the commercial hydroponic and aquaponic systems at SFCC were in full production. Food was being used in the campus cafeteria and the culinary department. As of late March, these outlets closed and there was no demand for our produce on campus. It has been 3 weeks since our shutdown and we have not stopped producing food. Currently, we are actually beginning to ramp up production for the needs of our community.

Our local mayor began an initiative to get food producers together as a collective and we are currently setting up centralized food distribution across Santa Fe for those in need. With so many out of work, and kids out of school, the demand for food resulted in the mayor approaching SFCC for help. Today was our first pickup from the city distribution program.

With information obtained from the GAP workshop at the 2019 AA conference, we have a good understanding of food safety procedures. We have developed strict protocols around our facility and have limited distancing to adhere to our government’s guidelines. We keep a 6 foot distance minimum between workers, limit to under 5 people at the facility at any one time, we always wear protective eyewear and gloves and we sanitize all surfaces, repeatedly throughout the day.

Early in the semester we had a student internship project develop into a marketing/food delivery project for the community. Twenty-five households per week were going to receive a free delivery of a fresh produce box, another 25 the following week and so on in exchange for survey input as a market study. Many of you know Nate Downy from the 2019 AA conference in Kentucky. We recently pleaded with our school president to let Nate continue his project through this unique time. He was granted permission to continue and his project of deliveries begins tomorrow! We all have our Food Handlers Certifications and will continue to keep our food safe for the public.

These are unique times and the education component certainly cannot be converted to all online. Our students need to go through fish and plant cycles from seed to harvest. Online content can be accomplished for the theory, but students cannot be proficient at aquaponics without getting to know the systems, and the biology, and manage those aspects daily.

Readers can follow our program updates on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/sfccgreenhouse/ and more about Nate’s project can be found at https://www.lettuceetc.com/

Charlie Shultz is the Lead Faculty for Santa Fe Community College’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Program

Do you want to write a short article to share your personal story?

Do you have an interesting story about how COVID-19 is affecting your aquaponics? Do you want to share it with the aquaponics community on the Aquaponics Association’s social media?

Are you expanding your system? Changing what you grow for friends and family? Sourcing fish in your local pond? Instructing the Elementary School maintenance staff via telephone how to buffer pH?

Tell us in under 500 words and please include at least two pictures of your aquaponic setup. We will post your stories. Your stories help us all reach new audiences for aquaponics!

Commercial Growers Hit Hard By Coronavirus

Two weeks ago we sent a short, informal survey asking how the lockdown conditions are affecting aquaponic growers. This article provides the results from commercial aquaponic growers.

By Brian Filipowich

Commercial aquaponic growers have been hit hard by the coronavirus lockdown. We received about 25 survey responses from commercial growers and about two-thirds said their business decreased by over 50% or completely shut down.

About one-third of growers said they have had success shifting their sales from restaurants to local markets or deliveries. One farm even said their business has now expanded.

Several growers said that the lockdown affected business plans or government proceedings that were already underway. And several said they are already seeing some supply shortages, and fear more.

Quotes:

  • “Weekly produce orders have increased as many of my clients have chosen not to travel outside of their homes to purchase food. (I operate a customizable CSA) I am currently contemplating how much extra produce to grow this summer in my traditional soil garden.” – Aquatic Gardens

  • “Growing: no impact yet, although we’ve had to temporarily suspend 50% of our staff. This will eventually translate to longer cycles. Selling: All hotel and most restaurant business suspended. Consumer purchasing direct from farm increased, but not yet significantly. Pivoting to pop-up sales in the community and farm-to-porch sales.” ETX Aquaponics

  • “We are continuing to grow and allowing texts orders with touchless payment options we then take the goods outside for pick up.” – Bella Vita Farm

  • “Getting tons of request for fish of all sizes, sold out of hatchery size fish last couple days and now selling larger fish! Can’t supply all requests!” – Future Food Farms

  • “Trying to get organic certified and expand but gov. offices are closed.” – Double Diamond Aquaponics Farm

  • “Over the weekend we lost 90% to 95% of our market as almost every restaurant and country club closed operations.” – [withheld]
  • “Lost 90% of my business overnight” – [withheld]
  • “I only sell to restaurants and they are closed so my business has been shut down” – [withheld]
  • “We are completely unable to sell any of our fish because of state and federal lock downs. No sales what so ever! We have good demand we have good supply but with social distancing because of the corona virus we are unable to host fish sales” – [withheld]

Stay tuned for responses from research, STEM education, community, and personal growers.

Help us spread the message!

The Aquaponics Association is a nonprofit that connects growers and works to increase aquaponic production. Please consider a General Membership to support this cause.

Benefits of Membership include:

  • Regular newsletters
  • Access to Aquaponics Association Members Forum with chat groups and direct messages
  • Ability to participate in working groups to move aquaponics forward: 1) Commercial Aquaponics; 2) Community Aquaponics; 3) Aquaponics in STEM Education; and 4) Aquaponics Research
  • Exclusive web content like checklists, best practices, conference presentations and full conference videos from top experts
  • Legislative & Regulatory Updates
  • Special Member Discounts

Membership fees also support:

  • Development and promotion of materials to educate the public about the benefits and opportunities of aquaponics!
  • Development of industry standards and best practices
  • Infrastructure to connect aquaponic growers from around the world
  • Strategic partnerships to expand aquaponics into new fields
  • Ability to speak with one voice to policy-makers and regulators on issues like Organic certification, food safety certification, and agriculture policy
  • Resources to improve aquaponic growers’ skills, growing capacity, and business opportunities
  • Resources to cultivate and develop aquaponics as an emerging green industry

Learn more: General Membership

 

COVID-19 Commercial Aquaponics / Aquaculture Survey

Researchers from Virginia Tech and Ohio State University are conducting a survey to determine how aquaculture, aquaponics, and related businesses are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey is anonymous, no personal info will be collected. A summary of the results (no raw data) will be shared in support of efforts to secure relief and assistance for the aquaculture, aquaponics, and allied industries.

Survey link: COVID-19 Commercial Aquaponics, Aquaculture Survey  

The survey takes about 15 minutes. The survey will be conducted once per quarter in 2020 to capture the evolving effect of the coronavirus on aquaculture, aquaponics, and allied business (suppliers, educators, consultants, etc).

If you have any questions please feel free to contact: Matthew Smith – smith.11460@osu.edu; or Jonathan van Senten – jvansenten@vt.edu.

Do you want to write a short article to share your personal story?

Do you have an interesting story about how COVID-19 is affecting your aquaponics? Do you want to share it with the aquaponics community on the Aquaponics Association’s social media?

Are you expanding your system? Changing what you grow for friends and family? Sourcing fish in your local pond? Instructing the Elementary School maintenance staff via telephone how to buffer pH?

Tell us in under 500 words and please include at least two pictures of your aquaponic setup. We will post your stories. Your stories help us all reach new audiences for aquaponics!

How is coronavirus affecting your aquaponics?

Please take our online survey to let us know how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting you and your aquaponic growing.

Your input will help us determine if there’s anything we can do to help growers overcome common hurdles during these uncharted times. We will post the results and do our best to link folks to helpful resources and information.

Thank you, stay safe, and keep growing!

Coronavirus Shows the Importance of Local, Efficient Agriculture

Aquaponic system at the University of the District of Columbia

By Brian Filipowich

The coronavirus outbreak is already disrupting international travel and trade. The pandemic could impact the global food supply chain and leave some populations without adequate nutrition.

This pandemic shows that we need to invest in local agriculture to boost our supply of local, reliable food. Aquaponics, hydroponics, and controlled-environment agriculture can produce large amounts of food with minimal space and resources. These water-based growing methods do not require soil and can be practiced from arid deserts to urban rooftops.

Hidden Cost of the Global Food Supply Chain

Our modern food system involves long travel distances and several steps along the supply chain. The average head of lettuce in the U.S. travels approximately 1,500 miles. Over 90% of our seafood is imported.

The coronavirus is exposing one major hidden cost of our global system: it is at risk from disruptions like pandemics, extreme weather events, military events, and economic or political upheavals. As the climate changes, these extreme events are more likely.

How does this hidden cost of the global food supply chain manifest itself?

An american consumer can find similar prices for a tomato grown 100 miles away and a tomato grown in another country 2,000 miles away. But during a global travel ban or category 5 hurricane, your local tomato will still be there. How do we account for this benefit during the good times, so that there are enough local growers to support us during possible disruptions?

Aquaponics, Hydroponics, and Controlled-Environment Agriculture

The problem is that with a changing climate, water shortages, and growing population, there is less land to grow for more people. Deserts, freezing climates, and urban areas do not have the arable soil to grow a meaningful amount of their own food to achieve food security.

Aquaponics is a food production method integrating fish and plants in a closed, soil-less system. This symbiotic relationship mimics the biological cycles found in nature. Benefits include dramatically less water use; no toxic chemical fertilizers or pesticides; and no agriculture discharge to air, water or soil.

Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants in water-based systems with externally supplied nutrients.

Controlled-Environment Agriculture (CEA) is the practice of raising crops in a protected, optimal environment like a greenhouse.

These growing methods maximize the amount of crops that can be produced per square area per year. Plants can be grown densely and quickly because conditions are ideal and roots are delivered exactly what they need. And controlled-environments allow for year-round production.

Aquaponics brings the added benefit of fish – an efficient supply of animal protein. It takes 30 pounds of feed to produce a one-pound steak, only 2 pounds for a one-pound tilapia filet. Fish can be grown densely and indoors, compared to the large operations required for beef, pork, and poultry.

Economies across the globe must find ways to value the hidden benefits of local, efficient agriculture to encourage more local growing. There will always be another coronavirus-type event, let’s make sure we have a reliable supply of local food for it.

Food Safety Presentation from Aquaculture America

Photo: East Fork Creek Gardens, a Member of the Aquaponics Association

At the Aquaculture America Conference this month, Aquaponics Association Members Charlie Shultz and Dr. Nick Savidov delivered a presentation on aquaponics food safety: Good Agricultural Practice for Aquaponic Produce and Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Certification, 2020 Update.

The presentation reviews the current state of Good Agriculture Practices (G.A.P.) for aquaponics and also discusses recent developments in aquaponics food safety.

For more information on aquaponics food safety, read the 2019 Aquaponics Food Safety Statement, signed by over 130 farms and organizations.

The Aquaculture America conference was held in Honolulu, HI, and featured a day of aquaponics workshops and presentations.

 

Will you help us grow Aquaponics!

Are you interested in supporting the Aquaponics Association so we can speak with one voice on food safety issues?

Please consider an Association Membership!

Your $60 Membership Fee helps to grow Aquaponics!

  • Development and promotion of materials to educate the public and policy-makers about the benefits and opportunities of aquaponics
  • Development of industry standards and best practices
  • Online learning opportunities like webinars and conference videos to improve growers’ skills and reach new growers
  • Infrastructure to connect growers, suppliers, advocates, educators, and funders from around the world
  • Annual conference for growers to connect face-to-face and build community
  • Ability to speak with one voice to policy-makers and regulators on issues like Organic certification, food safety, and agriculture policy
  • Resources and strategic partnerships to cultivate and develop aquaponics as an emerging green industry

Learn more: Aquaponics Association Membership

 

TrueNute Nutrient Management Services

 

Check out a great service from True Aquaponics, an Affiliate Member of the Aquaponics Association. The Aquaponics Association Affiliate Program allows aquaponics businesses and institutions to spread the latest products, services, classes, and events!

Are you having nutrient issues with your commercial aquaponic system? Unsure what deficiency you have and what to dose to fix it? Worried about whether or not you or your farm manager dosed nutrients properly? Do you need to balance the nutrients your plants have available to them?  Want to maximize ROI of your produce?

TrueNute Nutrient Management Service is here to help!

With TrueNute Nutrient Management Service you simply pay a monthly fee, send in your water to be tested. We then use that data to custom formulate a nutrient/mineral solution that you simply cut open and add to your system to re-balance your aquaponic system and maximized both yields and pest resistance. This service is already helping many farmers across North America get the best production possible for their farms and it will help your aquaponics farm too!

For more information follow the link below:

https://trueaquaponics.com/pages/truenute-nutrient-management-service

If you have any questions, please email us at truenute@gmail.com or shoot us a text at 214-489-2311

USDA Grants Call for Aquaponics

Kentucky State University, 2019 Aquaponics Conference

By Brian Filipowich

Major Federal Grants have recently been published that can apply to aquaponics growers. USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Grants will disburse $192 Million for FY2020 across several different programs and specifically call for aquaponics and hydroponics projects.

Due dates for grant applications range from March 12 to May 28, 2020, depending on the project. The AFRI program is intended to invest in research, education, and extension projects that support more sustainable, productive, and economically viable agricultural systems.

Click here for AFRI Request for Applications.

Aquaponics projects can fit into multiple programs within the Grant, including:

  • Foundational Knowledge of Agricultural Production Systems
  • Pests and Beneficial Species in Agricultural Production Systems
  • Small- and Medium-Sized Farms
  • Water Quantity and Quality

Separately, USDA Aquaculture Research Grants have also been published. These grants total $1.2 Million. The due date is April 22, 2020.

Click here for Aquaculture Request for Application.

The USDA Aquaculture Program supports the development of an environmentally and economically sustainable aquaculture industry in the U.S. and generate new science-based information and innovation to address industry constraints.

Given that over 90% of U.S. seafood is imported, and seafood is a much more efficient source of animal protein than than beef, pork, and poultry, you’d think we need to invest more in aquaculture and aquaponics!

 

Aquaponics at Aquaculture America, Honolulu, HI

Aquaculture America is coming up Feb 9-12 in Honolulu, HI.

The Aquaponics sessions at the Conference will be Feb 10 from 11am-5pm; and Feb 11 from 10:30am to 12:30pm. There will be over 30 presentations on all aspects of aquaponics.

Aquaponics Engineer Huy Tran noted that aquaponics is growing rapidly; a few years ago at the Aquaculture America Conference there were only 4 aquaponics presentations.

On behalf of the Aquaponics Association, Dr. Nick Savidov and Charlie Shultz will present “Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for Aquaponic Produce and Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Certification, 2020 Update.” A special thanks to Meg Stout for spearheading that presentation.

Aquaponics at Massachusetts Corrections Facility

Berkshire Education and Correction Service in Massachusetts is about to open a new Aquaponics Lab, installed by Aquaponics Association Member 100 Gardens. The aquaponic system is expected to produce about 1,500 heads of lettuce and 80lbs of fish per week.

Check out this quick video of the facilities from Facebook.

Partnership with Indoor Ag Con

The Aquaponics Association is proud to partner with Indoor Ag Con in support of their upcoming conference. Themed “Growing the Future,” the 2020 edition of Indoor Ag-Con will be the showplace for robotics, automation, AI, breaking technology trends and product innovation.

Aquaponics Association Board of Directors Member and Treasurer Claudia Andracki will join the full line-up of industry experts, thought leaders and executives leading programs across three tracks: Business; Science & Technology; and Alternative Crops. Ms. Andracki is the owner of Desert Bloom Eco Farm, a solar-powered farm one hour outside of Las Vegas.

Ms. Andracki will join the panel discussion “The Latest Developments In Aquaponics” on opening day, May 18 from 9 – 9:45 am. Click here for a sneak preview of confirmed speakers. Click here for a sneak preview of the conference schedule in development.

As part of the Aquaponics Association industry alliance with Indoor Ag-Con, Association Members can save
an additional $100 off the Early Bird registration rate for the upcoming May 18-20, 2020 edition at the Wynn Las Vegas, and save up to $400 off the regular full conference pass rate for the premier trade event for the indoor & vertical farming industry. Members, stay tuned for an email from us with the Promo Code.

As part of the partnership, Indoor Ag Con will become an Affiliate Member of the Aquaponics Association.

Click here to learn more about Indoor Ag Con.

Aquaponics Can Reduce Food Miles

By Brian Filipowich

Long travel distances for our food lead to excessive carbon use, energy use for refrigeration, food spoilage, nutrient depletion, and poorer food security.

Aquaponics – and other controlled-environment growing techniques like hydroponics and aeroponics – can greatly reduce the distance food travels from farm to plate.

For the first time ever, researchers recently attempted to map out the entire U.S. food supply chain. The resulting map, above, shows an intricate web of food moving across the country. The full report is public and can be found here: Food flows between counties of the United States (Lin, 2019)

The map illustrates that our food travels long distances before it reaches our plate. “Food miles” is the measurement that tracks the actual distance food travels from farm to plate.

“Studies estimate that processed food in the United States travels over 1,300 miles, and fresh produce travels over 1,500 miles, before being consumed.” (ATTRA, 2008)

One reason for high food miles is because most food requires a large amount of open land and arable soil, and requires a specific climate to be grown at a large scale. Only certain parts of the country meet this criteria, and these areas must transport food long distances to reach all U.S. consumers. The map to the right shows the nine counties in the U.S. (highlighted in red) from which most food originates.

But aquaponics – and other modern growing methods like hydroponics and aeroponics – are water-based and do not require large amounts of arable soil. Also, these modern growing methods are usually practiced in “controlled-environments” like greenhouses that maintain ideal growing environments for plants throughout the entire year.

Aquaponic systems that raise edible fish can further reduce food miles by cutting down on the distance needed to transport the animal protein in our diets. The demand for animal protein is expected to rise along with world population growth. But farms that raise beef, pork, and poultry need large tracts of land far from population centers. Conversely, aquaponics and other recirculating aquaculture operations can raise fish in urban or suburban areas. And, because fish have a much more efficient feed conversion ratio than land animals, less feed stock needs to be grown and shipped, further increasing efficiency.

To read more about food miles, see Food Miles, Background and Marketing from ATTRA.

One often-overlooked benefit of local food is greater food security. Our complex web of food is susceptible to systemic shocks such as weather or disaster events. In extreme cases, disruptions could make it difficult to get enough food to a certain population. A greater proportion of local food allows areas to be better-prepared in cases of unexpected events.

But, before we assume that all food miles are bad, more research is needed to measure the tradeoffs between local and long-distance. For instance, studies show that it’s often more efficient to import fruits from distant warmer climates than to heat a local greenhouse in the winter.

More needs to be done to evaluate, quantify, and account for the hidden costs of our food system, including food miles. Analytic tools such as True Cost Accounting, Cost-Benefit Analysis, and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) create a more complete picture of the true cost of a product. LCA takes into account the costs of a product’s entire life cycle: production, processing, packaging, transport, use, and final disposal. LCA uses indicators not traditionally captured in a product’s market price, such as resource depletion, air and water pollution, biodiversity loss, human health impacts, and waste generation.

Analytic tools like LCA can uncover the true cost of shipping foods long distances and incentivize local agriculture. Aquaponic and hydroponic growers will benefit because – without the need for soil – they can get as close to consumers as possible. The result will be fresher food, less strain on the planet, and local economic growth!

 

SAVE THE DATE: Tulsa, Oklahoma September 25-27

ANNUAL CONFERENCE SAVE THE DATE

The Aquaponics Association is excited to announce that we will hold our annual conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma from September 25 – 27! Stay tuned for much more info and tickets within a few weeks.

2019 PRESENTATIONS AVAILABLE FOR MEMBERS

Did you know that Aquaponics Association Members have free access to the conference slide decks from last year’s conference at Kentucky State University? Click here to learn about Membership and access these informative presentations from experienced growers.

Members, to access the slides you can go to the main Members Area and look under Member Content, click “2019 Conference Slide Decks”.

ORGANICS WEBINAR

Tickets are one sale for the Organics Made Simple Webinar starting February 5, led by Juli Ogden. This webinar will give you everything you need to know to get your aquaponic or hydroponic farm certified Organic!

Congress Funds Office of Urban & Innovative Agriculture

By Brian Filipowich

The new Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production created by the 2018 Farm Bill had been sitting in limbo for the past year. The USDA declined to establish it without dedicated funding from Congress.

On December 20, 2019, the President signed into law H.R. 1865, The Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020. The Law includes $5 million for the Office.

The Mission of the Office is to encourage and promote urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural practices, including:

  • community gardens and farms located in urban areas, suburbs, and urban clusters;
  • rooftop farms, outdoor vertical production, and green walls;
  • indoor farms, greenhouses, and high-tech vertical technology farms; and
  • hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponic farm facilities.

The Office will disburse $10 million in grants before 2023 intended to “facilitate urban agricultural production, harvesting, transportation, and marketing.”

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) was the main sponsor of the new Office, and was responsible adding it to the 2018 Farm Bill. This past Fall, Senator Stabenow introduced an amendment to appropriate the $5 million to fund it.

The next step is to establish the Advisory Committee that will guide the establishment of the Office. The Committee is to be composed of 12 individuals from various sectors of the urban and innovative ag field.

The Farm Bill directed the establishment of the advisory committee by Summer, 2019. The USDA missed the target date because of the lack of funding and the USDA’s major relocation project from Washington, DC to Kansas City, MO, which “has resulted in catastrophic attrition at USDA’s top research agencies.”

Hopefully, with the new funding, the USDA can establish the Office soon.

North Central Aquaculture Conference Feb 1-2 in Columbus, Ohio

The 2020 North Central Aquaculture Conference, co-hosted by the USDA North Central Regional
Aquaculture Center (NCRAC) and the Ohio Aquaculture Association (OAA) will be held February 1-2,
2020 in Columbus, OH. Eighteen sessions comprising 54 presentations will be available for attendees to choose from.

Attendees can register here: http://ohioaquaculture.org/events

Click for 2020 North Central Aquaculture Conference Final News Release

Click here for 2020 Conference Agenda with Speakers

Commercial Aquaponics Breakout Discussions

By Brian Filipowich

At the Putting Out Fruits Conference in September, 2019 we held breakout discussions for Commercial Aquaponics, Community Aquaponics, and Aquaponics Research & Education. These small-group discussions allowed all participants to provide input on how we can work together to advance aquaponics in each area.

This article reviews participants’ input from the Commercial Aquaponics discussions from Friday and Sunday.

On Friday, we asked participants what they view as the main roadblocks to advancing Commercial Aquaponics. Participants identified the following issues:

  • Public Awareness
    The aquaponics community needs to be better at educating consumers about the quality and benefits of aquaponic fish and produce. And we need to do better garnering political support for our cause.
  • The Aquaponic Workforce
    Because modern aquaponics is still new, there is an inadequate supply of specialized labor with aquaponics knowledge. And, there is a long, steep learning curve to bring new employees up to speed.
  • Pest Management
    Pest management can be tricky in aquaponics because many pesticides in normal agriculture may not be safe for the aquaponic ecosystem, which also includes fish and bacteria. Monoculture growing in a greenhouse can make this even more difficult because some insects may proliferate once they find a large crop they like.
  • Infrastructure
    Some growers have a tough time accessing affordable infrastructure like electricity and water.
  • Financing
    Most banks and insurance companies don’t understand aquaponics.
  • Regulations
    Some growers run into unforeseen regulatory issues, and a lack of scientific study to address food safety and regulatory questions.
  • Are “fish veggies” yucky?
    Some consumers believe that plants grown in an aquaponic system may not be safe to eat because of the fish. Others think the fruits and veggies might taste like fish! (they don’t)

Then, on Sunday, we asked participants if they had ideas how we can work together to advance Commercial Aquaponics. Participants identified the following ideas:

  • New Technologies
    New technologies that make aquaponics more efficient will save money and help commercial growers’ bottom lines. One specific example was nano-bubble technology.
  • Connecting Growers
    An online map that displays aquaponic farms, training centers, and suppliers will help growers connect and identify resources and advice.
  • Extension Agents
    Land-grant colleges offer extension services to spread agriculture information to farmers. Because aquaponics is new, some colleges know much more about aquaponics than others. It is inefficient for growers to struggle with problems when an extension agent in another state already knows the solution. By improving aquaponics knowledge among extension agents nationwide we can save growers time and energy rather than recreating the wheel state-by-state.
  • Baseline Standard Operating Procedures
    Establishing baseline Aquaponics Standard Operating Procedures would let all growers and outside stakeholders know exactly what occurs in an aquaponic system. This will prevent mistakes from growers, and prevent misinformation spreading among outside parties. Such standards could also include lists of acceptable and unacceptable materials or supplements to use in an aquaponics system.
  • Grants and Funding
    More funding would speed up the advances in technology and business practices and bring aquaponic production to the mainstream faster.
  • Legal / Regulatory Representation
    The aquaponics community needs to be able to address legal and regulatory issues that have the potential to set back – or push forward – the entire industry. For example, a major food safety certifier recently announced it would phase out aquaponics eligibility in 2020, based on unfounded concerns. The Aquaponics Association has responded with the 2019 Aquaponics Food Safety Statement. Other examples include working Congress to fund the new USDA Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production, which is intended to be the USDA’s central hub for aquaponics and other new agriculture techniques; keeping aquaponics eligible for Organic certification; and including aquaponics in the 2018 Farm Bill. As the industry grows, so will misinformation. We must be ready to speak out with one voice when these circumstances occur.

Auburn University Aquaponics Survey

A message from D. Allen Pattillo at Auburn University:

Hello fellow aquaponic enthusiasts!

The School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences (SFAAS) invites you to participate in a survey study to generate a ‘snapshot’ of the status of the aquaponics industry. This survey is designed for hobbyists, educators, and for-profit aquaponic producers. We recognize and appreciate your commitment to improving and advancing aquaponics.

This survey is intended for those age 18 and older, and the questions should take about 20 minutes to complete. Your responses will be kept confidential and any data collected will be presented in aggregate form to ensure anonymity. If you have any questions or wish to provide additional feedback, please do so in the comments section at the end of this survey.

The information you share with us will be used to develop targeted research, teaching, and extension efforts to support the needs of the aquaponics industry.  We invite you to share this survey broadly to aquaponic practitioners of any scale and interest level.

The survey can be accessed at: https://auburn.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0riUVSI68QHL40d

Don’t miss this opportunity to let your voice be heard! Thank you for your participation. We look forward to hearing from you!

See additional information letter: Aquaponic Survey Information Letter_12-10-2019

Sincerely,

D. Allen Pattillo, M.S.
Ph.D. Student – Aquaponic Economics – Auburn University

Dap0005@auburn.edu

2019 Aquaponics Food Safety Statement

The Aquaponics Association presents the 2019 Aquaponics Food Safety Statement, signed by over 130 organizations, including 98 from the U.S. This statement explains the food safety credentials of produce grown in aquaponic systems.

PDF version: 2019 Aquaponics Food Safety Statement

December 9, 2019
Aquaponics Food Safety Statement

Established Science Confirms Aquaponic Fish and Produce are Food Safe

Aquaponics is a food production method integrating fish and plants in a closed, soil-less system. This symbiotic relationship mimics the biological cycles found in nature. Aquaponics has been used as a farming technique for thousands of years and is now seeing large-scale viability to feed a growing global population.

Benefits of aquaponics include dramatically less water use; no toxic chemical fertilizers or pesticides; no agriculture discharge to air, water or soil; and less food miles when systems are located near consumers where there is no arable soil.

Aquaponics has consistently proven to be a safe method to grow fresh, healthy fish, fruits, and vegetables in any environment. Governments and food safety certifiers must utilize the most current, accurate information to make food safety decisions about aquaponics at this time when our food systems adapt to a growing population and environmental concerns.

Food Safety Certification for Aquaponics

For years, commercial aquaponic farms have obtained food safety certification from certifying bodies such as Global GAP, USDA Harmonized GAP, Primus GFS, and the SQF Food Safety Program. Many aquaponic farms are also certified USDA Organic. These certifying bodies have found aquaponics to be a food safe method for fish, fruits, and vegetables. As far back as 2003, researchers found aquaponic fish and produce to be consistently food safe (Rakocy, 2003; Chalmers, 2004).  Aquaponic fish and produce continue to be sold commercially across North America following all appropriate food safety guidelines.

Recent Certification Changes Based on Unfounded Concerns

Recently, Canada GAP, a food safety certifier, announced that it will phase out certification of aquaponic operations in 2020, citing concerns about the potential for leafy greens to uptake contaminants found in aquaponic water.

Correspondence with Canada GAP leadership revealed that the decision to revoke aquaponics certification eligibility was based on research and literature surveys related to the uptake of pharmaceutical and pathogenic contaminants in hydroponic systems. However, these concerns are unfounded based on the established evidence.

First, the Canada GAP decision assumes that aquaponic growers use pharmaceuticals to treat fish, and that these pharmaceuticals would be taken up by plants causing a food safety risk.

In fact, pharmaceuticals are not compatible with aquaponics. Aquaponics represents an ecosystem heavily dependent on a healthy microorganism community (Rinehart, 2019; Aquaponics Association, 2018). The pharmaceuticals and antibiotics referenced by Canada GAP would damage the beneficial microorganisms required for aquaponics to function properly.

Second, the CanadaGAP decision misrepresents the risk of pathogenic contamination. Aquaponic produce – like all produce – is not immune to pathogenic contamination. However, aquaponics is in fact one of the safest agriculture methods against pathogenic risk. Most pathogenic contamination in our modern agriculture system stems from bird droppings, animal infestation, and agriculture ditch or contaminated water sources. In contrast, commercial aquaponic systems are “closed-loop” and usually operated in controlled environments like greenhouses. Almost all operations use filtered municipal or well water and monitor everything that enters and leaves the system.

Aquaponics and Food Safety

If practiced appropriately, aquaponics can be one of the safest methods of food production. The healthy microbes required for aquaponics serve as biological control agents against pathogenic bacteria. (Fox, 2012) The healthy biological activity of an aquaponic system competitively inhibits human pathogens, making their chances for survival minimal. This is, in effect, nature’s immune system working to keep our food safe, rather than synthetic chemicals.

The Government of Alberta, Canada ran extensive food safety tests in aquaponics from 2002 to 2010 at the Crop Diversification Centre South (CDC South) and observed no human pathogenic contamination during this entire eight-year period (Savidov, 2019, Results available upon request). As a result of this study, the pilot-scale aquaponic operation at CDC South was certified as a food safe operation in compliance with Canada GAP standards in May 2011 (GFTC OFFS Certification, May 26, 2011). Similar studies conducted by University of Hawaii in 2012 in a commercial aquaponic farm revealed the same results. (Tamaru, 2012)

Current aquaponic farms must be able to continuously prove their food safety. The U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act requires farms to be able to demonstrate appropriate mitigation of potential sources of pathogenic contamination as well as water testing that validates waters shared with plants are free from contamination by zoonotic organisms. So, if there is a food safety concern in aquaponics, food safety certifiers will find and document it.

Conclusion

The recent certification decision from Canada GAP has already set back commercial aquaponic operations in Canada and has the potential to influence other food safety certifiers or create unfounded consumer concerns. At a time when we need more sustainable methods to grow our food, it is essential to work on greater commercial-government collaboration and scientific validation to ensure fact-based food safety standards.

In order to expand the benefits of aquaponics, we need a vibrant commercial sector. And for commercial aquaponics to succeed, we need reliable food safety certification standards based on established science.

Consumers can feel secure knowing that when they purchase aquaponic fish and produce, they are getting fresh food grown in one of the safest, most sustainable methods possible.

Sincerely,

The Aquaponics Association, along with the undersigned entities

UNITED STATES

Alabama
Gardens on Air – A Local Farm, Inc.
Southern Organics

California
AONE Aquaponics
Fresh Farm Aquaponics
Go Fish Farm
SchoolGrown Aquaponics
Seouchae Natural Farming
Shwava, Inc.
University of California, Davis

Colorado
The Aquaponic Source
Bountyhaus School Farms
Colorado Aquaponics
Dahlia Campus for Health and Wellness Aquaponic Farm
Ecoponex Systems International LLC
Emerge Aquaponics
Flourish Farms @ The GrowHaus
Grand Valley Greens, LLC
GroFresh Farms 365
Northsider Farms LLC

Connecticut
Marine Bait Wholesale

Delaware
Aquaponics AI

Florida
The Aquaponics Doctors, Inc.
Aquaponic Lynx LLC
The Family Farm
GreenView Aquaponics, LLC
Sahib Aquaponics
Traders Hill Farm

Georgia
FM Aquaponic Farm
Georgia Aquaponic Produce LLC
TRC Aquaponics
Teachaman.fish
Ula Farms

Hawaii
Friendly Aquaponics, LLC

Idaho
FoodOlogy

Illinois
Central Illinois Aquaponics

Kentucky
Janelle Hager, Kentucky State University
K&L Organics
Purple Thumb Farms
West KY Aquaponics

Louisiana
Small Scale Aquaponics

Massachusetts
Aquaponics Academy
Lesley University
O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Maryland
Anne Arundel Community College
Greenway Farms, LLC

Missouri
Www.PlentyCare.Org

Minnesota
Menagerie Greens Inc.

North Carolina
Grace Goodness Aquaponics Farm, LLC
100 Gardens

New Hampshire
University of New Hampshire

New York
iGrow News
Oko Farms

New Mexico
Desert Verde Farm
Growing the Greens
High Desert Aquaponics
Howling Coyote Farms
Lettuce, Etc. LLC
Openponics
Project Urban Greenhouse
Sanctuary at ABQ
Santa Fe Community College

Ohio
Berean Aquaponic Farms and Organics LLC
CHCA Eagle Farms
Wildest Farms
Williams Dairy Farms

Oklahoma
Freedom FFA
Greener Grounds LLC

Oregon
Alternative Youth Activity
Ingenuity Innovation Center
Live Local Organic
Triskelee Farm

Pennsylvania
Aquaponics at State High
Yehudah Enterprises LLC

Puerto Rico
Fusion Farms
Granja Ecologica Pescavida

Rhode Island
The Cascadia Bay Company

Tennessee
Great Head LLC

Texas
BioDiverse Technologies LLC
BnE Enterprises
East Texas Aquaponics, LLC
Gentlesoll Farm
HannaLeigh Farm
K&E Texan Landscaping
King’s Farm
Tarleton State University, Aquaponics Hydrotron
West Texas Organic Gardening

Utah
Aquaponics Olio
Wasatch High School

Virginia
Grace Aquaponics
INMED Partnerships for Children
Return to Roots Farm

Vermont
The Mill ART Garden, LLP

Washington
The Farm Plan
Impact Horizon, Co.
Life Tastes Good LLC
Northwest Aquaponics LLC
Wind River Produce

Washington, DC
Anacostia Aquaponics DC LLC
P.R. Harris Food Hub

AUSTRALIA

New South Wales
Wirralee Pastoral
Solum Farm

BHUTAN

Thimphu
Chhuyang – Aquaponics in Bhutan

BRAZIL

Rio Grande do Norte
Habitat Marte

Santa Catarina
Pedra Viva Aquicultura 

BULGARIA

Burgas
Via Pontica Foundation

CANADA

Alberta
Agro Resiliency Kit (ARK) Ltd.
Fresh Flavor Ltd
Lethbridge College
W.G. Guzman Technical Services

British Colombia
Garden City Aquaponics Inc.
Green Oasis Foods Ltd.
Pontus Water Lentils Ltd.

Ontario
Aquatic Growers
University of Guelph
Power From Within Clean Energy Society
GREEN RELIEF

Quebec
ML Aquaponics Inc

Yukon Territory
North Star Agriculture

EGYPT

Cairo
Central Laboratory for Aquaculture Research

FRANCE

Paca
Vegetal Grow Development

INDIA

Delhi
Prof Brahma Singh Horticulture Foundation, New Delhi

Karnataka
Blue’s and Green’s
Spacos Innovations Private Limited

ITALY

Turin
Grow Up 

MALAYSIA

Negeri Sembilan
BNS Aquafresh Farming

NIGERIA

Abuja
University of Abuja

PHILIPPINES

Nueva Ecija
Central Luzon State University

Metro Manila, NCR
IanTim Aquaponics Farm

PORTUGAL

Madeira
True Spirit Lda

ROMANIA

Sectors 2 & 4
Bucharest Association of Romanian Aquaponics Society

SAUDI ARABIA

Riyadh
Aquaponica

SENEGAL

Senegal
Ucad Dakar

SINGAPORE

Singapore
Aquaponics Singapore 

Contributors:
Brian Filipowich, Aquaponics Association
Juli Ogden, The Farm Plan
Dr. Nick Savidov, Lethbridge College
Tawnya Sawyer, The Aquaponic Source
Dr. R. Charlie Shultz, Santa Fe Community College
Meg Stout, Independent

Contact:
Brian Filipowich
info@aquaponicsassociation.org

 

 

References

Chalmers, 2004. Aquaponics and Food Safety. Retrieved from http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/Travis/Aquaponics-andFood-Safety.pdf

Filipowich, Schramm, Pyle, Savage, Delanoy, Hager, Beuerlein. 2018. Aquaponic Systems Utilize the Soil Food Web to Grow Healthy Crops. Aquaponics Association. https://aaasociation.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/soil-food-web-aug-2018.pdf

Fox, Tamaru, Hollyer, Castro, Fonseca, Jay-Russell, Low. A Preliminary Study of Microbial Water Quality Related to Food Safety in Recirculating Aquaponic Fish and Vegetable Production Systems. Publication of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, the Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, University of Hawaii, February 1, 2012.

Rakocy, J.E., Shultz, R.C., Bailey, D.S. and Thoman, E.S.  (2003). Aquaponic production of tilapia and basil:  comparing a batch and staggered cropping system.  South Pacific Soilless Culture Conference. Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Rinehart, Lee. Aquaponics – Multitrophic Systems, 2019. ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture. National Center for Appropriate Technology.

Tamaru, Fox, Hollyer, Castro, Low, 2012. Testing for Water Borne Pathogens at an Aquaponic Farm. Publication of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, the Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, University of Hawaii, February 1, 2012.

Community Collaboration and Partnership: Takeaways from the 2019 Putting Out Fruits Conference

FoodChain nonprofit Aquaponic Farm serving foodbanks in Lexington, KY; Putting Out Fruits Conference Tour

By: Kate Wildrick, Strategic Advisor / Community Builder 

As the sun gently warmed the rolling hillsides surrounding the KSU Organics Research Facility, I watched as several new and familiar faces entered the building eager to learn and connect with others.  The annual Aquaponics Association’s Conference focused on showcasing how the movement was growing and expanding while seeding new opportunities to generate fruitful results. The theme of “Putting Out Fruits” built on previous conference themes around the industry’s roots and the growth of new science and research, applications of aquaponics and community endeavors.  

With a sold-out venue, the halls were brimming with enthusiasm and conversation.  It soon shifted as people made their way into one of three spaces where sessions focused around STEM / Education; Commercial; and Community topics.  

“It is time for your session,” my colleague reminded me.  

Picking up my notebook, I shuffled through the halls to the Community room.  In an effort to start up the dialogue around all of the wonderful ways in which aquaponics can build community, I noticed that our room had a lot of empty seats that continued to fill. Taking note, we launched into a community discussion with three panelists that included Murray Hallam, Practical Aquaponics; Juli Ogden, The Farm Plan; and Mac McLeon, an innovator of growing aquaponics projects and farms in the prison system.  Together, we opened up the discussion to explore how each of their unique work in education, food safety and workforce development could lend itself to cultivating new opportunities not only for partnership but to also help solve and remove some of the barriers that are holding the industry back.  

During our time together, we made powerful connections.  As each participant shared who they are and what they saw as challenges and opportunities in the aquaponic industry, we shifted the dialogue into looking at how community partnership could help serve as a tool.

Keney Park Sustainability Project in Hartford, CT; Putting Up Shoots Conference Tour

Together, we began to explore the hot topic of food safety. Using the recent ruling with the Canada GAP certification looking to not certify aquaponic farms, Juli Ogden explained the logical solution of simply replacing CanadaGAP with GLOBALG.A.P..  We dove into how community partnerships could play a role in the gathering and sharing of research and information to help educate others inside and outside the aquaponic industry. Food safety touches every aspect of aquaponics from design and construction, workforce training and development and market viability.   In our discussion, it was clear that there was a blatant need for more research; industry standards; and continued training and education to ensure that aquaponics as an industry can continue to grow and expand.

Mr. McLeon shared how his relationships within the prison system could open the door for big community collaboration projects to emerge.  Working within the prisons, research and development could be done in partnership with higher education. Developing a partnership between the two could open up doors to not only gathering information and data, but analysis and evaluation by academics to help advance the industry.  Connections were also made around how workforce training and development can also happen within the prison system to help offenders build new and marketable skills to help them transition after they are released. Training programs, such as Mr. Hallam’s aquaponic curriculum (already nationally accredited by Australia), could help provide a baseline for workforce competencies. As each panelist contributed to what these partnerships could do, others in the audience who had community based aquaponic projects also connected how they could participate in helping offenders transition into paid employment.

Aquaponics at the Mississauga Food Bank in Canada

The second community session focused on a group discussion around what the Aquaponics Association could be doing to help advance and grow community solutions.  There were many takeaways from our time together that had definitely been sparked by the first discussion. The top three included:

  1. Provide more opportunities for other community-based/driven aquaponic models to participate in the conferences.  The suggestions included having a special community priced booth to bring awareness to local, domestic and international endeavors and provide ways for people to get involved.  These packages could help NGO’s, non-profits and benefit companies.
  2. Create a better virtual space and way for people to connect their projects, mission and vision within the aquaponics community to help mobilize resources.
  3. Bring more awareness to the other members in the Aquaponic Association to help grow the Community space.  Suggestions included featuring how partnerships can help solve our growing challenges and also showcase who is working on what issues while communicating how to get involved.

With 2019 coming to a close, I look forward to seeing how these recommendations will help shape, grow and influence our members and our community together.  More importantly, I look forward to seeing more community participants in next year’s conference increase.

Do you have ideas for how the Aquaponics Association can boost Community Aquaponics?

Aquaponics Course at U. New Hampshire!

See Full Flyer

The University of New Hampshire is offering a great Aquaponics Course this Spring (SAFS 740).

Students will perform labs in the aquaponic greenhouse, handle and raise fish, learn about water treatment and nutrient management, and learn how to design an integrated aquaponic farm of their own.

See UNH’s Kingman Research Farm, which hosts three aquaponic greenhouses.

The University of New Hampshire is an Affiliate Member of the Aquaponics Association.

 

 

 

ACTION ALERT: Tell Congress to Support USDA Urban / Innovative Ag Office

(Bella Vita Farm, Brookeville, MD)

Please call or email your two senators and one representative and ask them to Support the new USDA Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production.

In the next week or two, Congress will decide whether or not to fund the USDA’s new Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. The Office was created by the 2018 Farm Bill but still needs to be funded.

This new Office is intended to be the USDA’s central hub to handle aquaponics, hydroponics, vertical growing, and other new growing methods. It will coordinate matters for these growers and offer new research and funding opportunities. (See Summary)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1 – Identify your two federal senators and one federal representative.

2 – Find the phone number of their Washington, DC office on their website.

3 – Call each Office and ask to speak to the staff member that handles agriculture policy. [You may not get to speak to the staff, they may ask you to leave a message or give you an email address. Wherever you land, use the message below.]

4 – Tell them you’d like the Senator / Representative to Support the new USDA Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production created by the 2018 Farm Bill. If you’re feeling chatty you can tell them what you do and why your work is important.

Thanks for supporting urban and innovative agriculture, future generations will thank you!

Brian Filipowich, Chairman
Aquaponics Association

 

Association Board Election

The Aquaponics Association is accepting applications to fill one vacancy on the Board of Directors. This is a great chance to help move aquaponics forward!

Please see: Aquaponics Association Board of Governors Position Description

If you are interested in applying to be a Board Member then please send your resume and a brief statement of interest to info@aquaponicsassociation.org. We will accept applications until the Close of Business on Tuesday, November 19.

All are encouraged to apply, and we may be able to find opportunities for engagement for all applicants.

 

 

2019 Aquaponics Food Safety Statement Sign-on

Dear Aquaponics Growers,

At the Putting Out Fruits conference last month, we all agreed that it was important for our community to make a positive statement asserting the food safety status of aquaponics. Part of the motivation was that a major food safety certifier, Canada GAP, recently announced it will revoke certification for aquaponic farms in 2020, citing unfounded concerns.

The withdrawal of aquaponics eligibility from this certifier has already set back commercial operations in Canada.

We believe that the aquaponics community must make a positive statement asserting our food safety credentials to ensure that policy and large-scale decisions that affect our future are based on concrete science, not unfounded concerns.

We are collecting signatures on the 2019 Aquaponics Food Safety Statement from farms, research institutions, schools, and other organizations that stand behind it and would like your voice to be heard.

If you would like your farm or organization to sign on, click the link below. The deadline to sign the statement is November 15, 2019. Once we collect all the signatures we will publish and broadcast the statement, and ask you to do the same.

Click here to read the statement and, if you choose, sign on: 2019 Aquaponics Food Safety Statement.

Best regards,

Brian Filipowich, Chairman
Aquaponics Association

info@aquaponicsassociation.org

October Aquaponics News Roundup

Sick of the same old TV shows? You’re in luck! It’s the Aquaponics News Roundup! The fishtank pictured above is from FoodChain in Lexington, KY, a non-profit aquaponic farm we toured at the September Putting Out Fruits Conference. Now for the news…

A lot’s happening in the world of aquaponics! This installment of the News Roundup is focused on a non-profit’s mission to support disenfranchised youth, a look at how the industry can broaden food access in urban areas, and a corporate grant awarded to support a K-12 aquaponic initiatives.

INMED Partnerships for Children teams up with the Paxton Campus in Loudoun Country, Virginia to create an educational, aquaponic greenhouse: https://modernfarmer.com/2019/10/phoenix-looks-to-snuff-out-food-deserts/

In looking to mitigate food deserts, Phoenix, Arizona contemplates the role that aquaponic initiatives can serve in its long-term plan to transform the local food economy: https://modernfarmer.com/2019/10/phoenix-looks-to-snuff-out-food-deserts/

The Moon Area School District wins a $100,000 grant from Schneider Electric’s ‘K-12 Bold Ideas’ contest: https://modernfarmer.com/2019/10/phoenix-looks-to-snuff-out-food-deserts/

Tune in next time!

Food System Transformations Report

The Global Alliance for the Future of Food and The Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development recently published a report: Beacons of Hope; Accelerating Transformations to Sustainable Food Systems.

The Report “showcases the groundswell of people transforming our food systems in beneficial, dynamic, and significant ways, through nature- and people-based solutions. It provides a Food Systems Transformation Toolkit built on the principles of renewability, health, equity, resilience, diversity, and interconnectedness as a guide for discussion and collective action.”

Aquaponics is a powerful tool to transform food systems because – compared to soil agriculture – it uses less inputs, emits less waste, and can be practiced in any environment. Aquaponics is still evolving and has yet to reach mainstream status, but it will begin to play a greater role as we struggle to feed a growing global population at the same time as we confront resource and environmental challenges.

 

Aquaponics News Roundup 9/30/19

The aquaponics industry keeps on building momentum! In this “News Roundup” we’re emphasizing the financial impact that the industry will have in the near future, an educational initiative to develop both students and the community, and the growing intersection between cannabis and aquaponics.

by Thomas Wheet

Putting Out Fruits Conference Summary

Last weekend over 260 aqua-pioneers gathered at Kentucky State University for the Aquaponics Association’s Putting Out Fruits Conference.

The Conference included learning tracks for commercial, community, and STEM / research aquaponics.

We toured FoodChain, a non-profit aquaponic-farm in an old bread factory.

And we toured six different stations at the Kentucky State University Aquaculture / Aquaponics Research Center.

Stay tuned for much more info and the opportunity to obtain conference video.

 

 

Saltwater shrimp at KSU

 

 

Obligatory zany photo:

FoodChain; Friday Conference Tour

We will be touring FoodChain, an aquaponic farm in Lexington, KY on Friday, September 20 at the Putting Out Fruits Conference!

Since 2013, FoodChain has been operating an indoor aquaponic farm in an abandoned bread factory in order to demonstrate how cities can turn underutilized, industrial spaces into food production.

Their farm uses a deep-water recirculating system with 7,000 gallons of water, 500 tilapia, and thousands of plants.

Says FoodChain: “Our farm is special: although we are able to cover 1/3 of our operating costs with the food we produce here, we are also able to do a lot of research and best practice development for other producers! Being a nonprofit frees us up to make resources like our Barrelponics Manual and Microgreen Cost Analysis available to anyone interested in pursuing aquaponics!”

After the tour, we will have social time / open dinner in a social area of Lexington, KY, before buses take us 45 minutes back to Frankfort for more socializing and aquaponic revelry!

There are still a few tickets and vendor tables left to the Putting Out Fruits Conference, head to the Conference Homepage to get your tickets ASAP!

Check out the Saturday KSU Aquaculture Research Center Tour Info if you missed it.

 

 

Podcast: Conference Discussion

Aquaponics Association Chairman Brian Filipowich appeared on the Growing with Fishes Podcast to discuss the upcoming Putting Out Fruits Conference and other Association activities.

Here’s how to access the podcast.

Podcast host Steve Raisner will be at the Conference, presenting on the newest advances in Insect and Pest Management, and partaking in an Aquaponic-Cannabis Production Panel.

(FYI it was recorded at 10pm eastern time and Chairman Bri-guy was tired!)

Commercial Aquaponics Learning Track

Commercial Aquaponics is one of the learning tracks at the upcoming Putting Out Fruits Conference, September 20-22 at Kentucky State University. This learning track features presentations and panel discussions intended to boost the aquaponics industry as a whole, and to give individual growers the tools they need to succeed in the market. See the Putting Out Fruits Program.

Some major topics of the Commercial Aquaponics Learning Track are:

-food safety and organic certification;
-commercial aquaponics industry survey;
-monetizing fish and shrimp;
-designing and installing an aquaponic system for profit;
-international commercial aquaponics case studies;
-specialty crops in aquaponics; and
-aquaponic cannabis and hemp cultivation.

This track also features breakout discussions that allow all participants to discuss their views on the commercial aquaponics industry, and how we can work together to make the road easier for everyone.

For info about vendor tables or general tickets, head to the Putting Out Fruits Conference Homepage.

Are you interested in supporting free and discounted conference tickets for STEM educators, students, non-profits, and community growers? Please lend a hand with aPutting Out Fruits Sponsorship! Sponsorships start as low as $250 and go a long way to making the Conference accessible to ALL Aquapioneers!

KSU Aquaculture Research Center Tour

Saturday afternoon of the Putting Out Fruits Conference, participants will split into groups and rotate through multiple sites and demonstrations at the Kentucky State University Aquaculture Research Center. These stations include:

-The Aquaponics Demonstration Greenhouse;
-Fish Disease Overview;
-Insect and Pest Management Demonstration;
-Saltwater Shrimp Tour;
-Fish Processing Tutorial;
-Hatchery and Ponds Tour; and
-Replicated Aquaponics Research Tour.

For info about vendor tables or general tickets, head to the Putting Out Fruits Conference Homepage.

Are you interested in supporting free and discounted conference tickets for STEM educators, students, non-profits, and community growers? Please lend a hand with a Putting Out Fruits Sponsorship! Sponsorships start as low as $250 and go a long way to making the Conference accessible to ALL Aquapioneers!

News Roundup: The Aquaponics Industry is Making Waves

Victory Aquaponics in NH
(Victory Aquaponics in NH)

The aquaponics industry is constantly adapting as it revolutionizes how, and where, local foods are produced. For this installment of the “News Roundup” we’re highlighting several interesting articles centered around industry leaders, crop diversification, and updates on the USDA’s support for this rapidly expanding sector.

Superior Fresh demonstrates aquaponics’ viability even in colder regions:
Aquaponic farmers are looking to join the cannabis movement:

That’s all for now, see you in a few weeks!

Vendor Spotlight: Aquacal

AquaCal® will be joining us in the Putting Out Fruits Vendor Showroom! AquaCal® offers a variety of heat pump models to meet the diverse needs of the Aquaculture industry.

Interested in a vendor table? Scroll down on the Putting Out Fruits Homepage.

Conference Program!

The Aquaponics Association 2019 Board of Governors is proud to present the tentative program for the September 20-22 Putting Out Fruits Conference:

You can buy your tickets at the Putting Out Fruits homepage.

We hope you can make it,
Tawnya Sawyer, Conference Chair
Aquaponics Association

STEM Discount Tickets are Going Fast!

Carlin from Hemphill Highschool just got a STEM & Community Discount Ticket for the Putting Out Fruits Conference this September 20-22 at Kentucky State University. Learn about our STEM and Community Discount!

Aquaponics at Hemphill Highschool:
During the 2018-2019 school year, the School constructed phase I of the aquaponics lab. In 2019-2020, the School will complete phase II of the lab. This lab will be use to teach grades 1-12 as well cooperative teaching with the Agriculture Extension Agent. Other government agencies will participate with the Ag class to promote economic development. Check out their current setup, pictured above.

 

Global Aquaponic Practitioners Survey

A message from CITYFOOD at the University of Washington:

Hello Aquaponic Practitioners and Experts, help us fill in the GAPS by September 1st!

Please help us support the field of aquaponics by contributing to the Global Aquaponic Practitioners Survey

The CITYFOOD University of Washington team needs your help to empower this amazing field in producing sustainable healthy food! We are conducting an online survey of global aquaponic practitioners. Our work connects practitioners, researchers, and specialists to co-create the future of aquaponics and a vision of its connection with cities. Your support will help document production scale systems and you’ll receive an exclusive report for participating. This is a great opportunity to support to research that benefits and grows the aquaponics field.

The online survey takes only 15-20 minute to complete! All responses are confidential and cannot be traced back to an individual participant. However, together they will help paint a picture of the field’s success. We are looking forward to collaborating with you in the future to help support the aquaponic industry together!

CITYFOOD is an international, interdisciplinary project of collaborating aquaculture specialists, architects, and urban planners jointly supported by the US National Science Foundation and the EU Sustainable Urbanisation Global Initiative. We see aquaponics as a promising solution addressing the food, water, and energy challenges. If you would like to learn more about our project, please reach out to us at cityfood@uw.edu

UN: World Food Supply at Risk

A new U.N. Report states that the world’s food supply is at risk from climate change, and we need to change the way we produce our food.

“The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at ‘unprecedented rates,’ a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself.” (NYT)

“Scientists say that we must immediately change the way we manage land, produce food and eat less meat in order to halt the climate crisis.” (CNN)

Read the Report Summary

The Report points to the need for more efficient, sustainable growing methods like aquaponics, hydroponics, vertical growing, composting, and controlled-environment agriculture.

Brian Filipowich, Chairman
Aquaponics Association

 

Hennen of the Hydrotron got his STEM Discount Ticket!

Dr. Hennen Cummings got his STEM Discount ticket for the Putting Out Fruits Conference September 20-22 at Kentucky State University. Are you a teacher or community grower? Learn about our STEM and Community Discount!

Dr. Cummings teaches college students aquaponics in the Hydrotron which is an 1800ft² greenhouse that has 1750 and 350 gallon tanks with Mozambique tilapia.  The fish water is recirculated under three 4’ x 8’ x 2’ deep water culture (DWC) tanks with rafts.  Each raft tank has five vertical lettuce grow towers that receive water from the raft and drain back to the same raft.

Tiger prawns in a non-flow through (decoupled) 950 gallon tank process larger solid waste filtered from the fish water.  The system uses 2” net pots, BeaverBoards, GroPockets, Mexican scuds, wicking beds, a 250 gal swirl filter at a 2.0 gal/min flow rate, clarifier, mineralization tank with bird netting, and a degassing tank.

Solid fish waste is composted with sugar and heavy aeration and bottled for use as potted plant fertilizer.  There are 4 outside IBC media bed stacked systems with catfish, koi, tilapia, gambusi, and redear shellcrackers.  Students learn to fillet fish and prepare a health meal during labs using Rex butterhead lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, strawberries, nasturtium, onions, and prawns which are all grown in or next to the Hydrotron.

Bill Got His STEM Discount Ticket!

Bill Martin from the Helios Project just got his ticket for the Putting Out Fruits Conference September 20-22 at Kentucky State University. Are you a teacher or community grower? Learn about our STEM and Community Discount!

Here’s what Bill says about his project:

We created the Helios Project at Pomfret School in Pomfret, CT to empower students and provide a venue for authentic student learning and the application of 21st century learning goals. We use aquaponics as a rich and relevant platform for student innovation and to teach applied biology, chemistry, physics and engineering principles.

Everything done in the Helios Project is driven by the “need” for something new to be built or a problem to be solved by a group of students.  As much as possible students design, build, run and refine the aquaponics systems in our CERES passive solar greenhouse whose metal frame was assembled by students in a fall trimester class.  In addition to the sciences, The Helios Project has also benefited from the contributions of students from other Pomfret School departments such as art, photography and computer graphics who created a mural to adorn the exterior north wall, from computer science students who built the Helios Project website, and from videography students who created short films documenting various aspects about the Project.

Beyond monitoring the aquaponic systems, Helios Interns plant and harvest produce for the School’s dining hall and to donate to a local food bank and filet tilapia for an annual fish fry.  Finally, the Project provides opportunities for students to engage in independent research projects and to do outreach to area schools, teaching elementary to high school students about aquaponic topics.  The Helios Project is ongoing and the beauty of it is that there will always be more to do!

STEM & Community Discount

CRITERIA

The following individuals are eligible for the STEM & Community Discount:

-Individuals representing a 501(c)3 non-profit organization
-All teachers and students
-All home / backyard / hobbyist growers that do not grow for profit

Follow the instructions on the flier to get your discount ticket. The ticket is a full General Admission conference ticket, which includes:

  • Access to all conference programming
  • Access to a shared drive with all conference digital content such as presentations and videos
  • Access to vendors area showcasing top aquaponics technology and services
  • Admission and transportation to all Friday and Saturday tours of large-scale aquaponics operations
  • Friday and Saturday night social events with aquaponics growers from around the world
  • Participation in working group discussion sessions
  • Admission to the Sunday Association Members meeting and official Association business
  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday Lunch
  • Saturday night Farm-to-Table Aquaponics Banquet
  • Coffee and snack breaks
  • Aquaponics Association Annual Membership ** $60 Value **

 

Conference Room Block at the Capital Plaza Hotel

If you’re coming to the Putting Out Fruits Conference September 20-22 you are eligible for a fantastic deal in our Capital Plaza Hotel room block. Rooms are $109/night and include a full hot breakfast. The room block rate expires August 17.

Our Conference Team is busy reviewing presentation proposals, analyzing conference surveys, and drafting a program that will advance aquaponics for growers large and small. And we want you to be there! Head to the Conference Homepage for ticket info.

Best regards,

Brian Filipowich, Chairman
Aquaponics Association

Putting Out Fruits only two months away!

We are less than two months away from Putting Out Fruits at Kentucky State University, September 20-22.

Our Conference Team is busy reviewing presentation proposals, analyzing conference surveys, and drafting a program that will advance aquaponics for growers large and small. And we want you to be there!

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

Our fruity theme is more than just words. The conference will produce: videos of expert panel discussions; digital presentations and cutting edge data; long-term goals we will set collaboratively for working groups; group statements to policy makers and regulators; and the building blocks for a stronger Aquaponics Association!

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.

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.

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

We hope to see you there!

Brian Filipowich, Chairman
Aquaponics Association

 

2019 Gulf “Dead-Zone” Shows the Need for Aquaponics

The 2019 Gulf of Mexico “Dead Zone” is predicted to be the second-largest on record. A dead-zone is an area of very low oxygen (hypoxia) where most life cannot survive. A major cause of the Dead Zone is nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizer runoff from field agriculture along the Mississippi River. This year’s zone was exacerbated by higher-than-usual rainfall.

Aquaponics is a method of agriculture that employs recirculating systems of fish, plants, and bacteria. This natural biological cycle allows for crop production with minimal inputs and waste, including nutrient discharge.

Aquaponic systems are “closed-loop”; growers carefully manage nutrients and water discharges. By growing with more aquaponics we can limit the fertilizer that enters the Gulf and reduce future dead zones.

Here’s good background from Carleton College about the Gulf Dead Zone:

“The Gulf of Mexico dead zone is an area of hypoxic (link to USGS definition) (less than 2 ppm dissolved oxygen) waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Its area varies in size, but can cover up to 6,000-7,000 square miles.

“The dead zone is caused by nutrient enrichment from the Mississippi River, particularly nitrogen and phosphorous. Watersheds within the Mississippi River Basin drain much of the United States, from Montana to Pennsylvania and extending southward along the Mississippi River. Most of the nitrogen input comes from major farming states in the Mississippi River Valley, including Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Nitrogen and phosphorous enter the river through upstream runoff of fertilizers, soil erosion, animal wastes, and sewage. In a natural system, these nutrients aren’t significant factors in algae growth because they are depleted in the soil by plants. However, with anthropogenically increased nitrogen and phosphorus input, algae growth is no longer limited. Consequently, algal blooms develop, the food chain is altered, and dissolved oxygen in the area is depleted. The size of the dead zone fluctuates seasonally, as it is exacerbated by farming practices. It is also affected by weather events such as flooding and hurricanes.

“Nutrient overloading and algal blooms lead to eutrophication (link to USGS definition), which has been shown to reduce benthic (link to definition) biomass and biodiversity. Hypoxic water supports fewer organisms and has been linked to massive fish kills in the Black Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

“The Gulf of Mexico is a major source area for the seafood industry. The Gulf supplies 72% of U.S. harvested shrimp, 66% of harvested oysters, and 16% of commercial fish (Potash and Phosphate Institutes of the U.S. and Canada, 1999). Consequently, if the hypoxic zone continues or worsens, fishermen and coastal state economies will be greatly impacted. Source: https://serc.carleton.edu/microbelife/topics/deadzone/index.html

Brian Filipowich, Chairman
Aquaponics Association

 

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.