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!

Aquaponics Funding Alert

 

A new program has been funded to advance U.S. marine aquaculture by helping minority-owned businesses around the nation engage and expand in the world’s fastest-growing form of food production.

The new Minority Business Enterprise Aquaculture Program is operated by the Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council (FSMSDC) in partnership with the Southern Region Minority Supplier Development Council.

The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The agency’s $400,000 grant will be used to identify and promote minority-owned businesses that have potential to grow in the aquaculture industry and provide them with a combination of technical assistance, outreach, education and one-on-one consultations through live events, targeted educational information, individual in-person counseling and digital support.

Read more: MBE Aquaculture 

Conference Dates: September 20-22 @ KSU!

This year, the Aquaponics Association Annual Conference will be September 20-22 at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, KY.

Stay tuned for the first round of early bird tickets within a few weeks.

Kentucky State University 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.

The goal of the conference is to unite growers from around the world and advance the practice of aquaponics. The Aquaponics Association looks to build on the momentum of the last annual conferences Putting Down Roots in Portland, Oregon, 2017; and Putting Up Shoots in Hartford, Connecticut, 2018. Each hosted the world’s top aquaponics experts, a vendor showroom of the top aquaponics technology and services, and tours of large-scale aquaponics projects.

Frankfort, Kentucky is a small, quaint town with some of the nation’s top bourbon distilleries, the Keenland Racetrack, and other cultural attractions close by.

Frankfort is reachable from Bluegrass Airport (LEX); Greater Cincinnati – Northern Kentucky Int’l Airport (CVG); and 60 minute Louisville Airport (SDF).

contact: info@aquaponicsassociation.org

Community Aquaponics Discussions, Theme #3: Financial Challenges

In the first post of this series, we described what we mean by “Community Aquaponics”. Then, we identified the first two themes from the Community Aquaponics breakout discussion groups: Community Involvement and Location Considerations. In this post, we look at the last theme identified by the Community breakout discussion groups:

Financial Challenges

By Tawnya Sawyer

Some of the community aquaponic programs are supported by non-profits that use a variety of funding sources to pay for capital costs for construction and possibly operating expenses. Being financially viable was a big topic of discussion and critically important to ensuring that aquaponics can be not only environmentally and socially responsible, but can also be sustained from a funding stand point. Some community ventures were not seeing a profit but hoping to within a short time. While others had a mission to make donations for all of their products and never expected to meet the cost of operations. Financing was considered a very important topic and one that many people find challenging. Some of the ways that community aquaponic projects have been funded historically include:

–Sources of funding to build an aquaponic system include grants, donations, crowd-source funding campaigns, bank loans, personal savings, and investors.

–Operational costs were a little tricker with some farmers indicating that they were able to pay for their expenses through produce and fish sales, tours and training activities.

–Many operated measure success not just with money, but many other factors such as how many people had improved their nutrition, become educated, had new job skills, learned to be more self-reliant, etc.

We envision that community aquaponics will be one of the most critical driving forces in expanding this industry. Creating models that prove out success at the community level is a critical step in the process. Luckily, there are many examples of well-established and well-run community aquaponics installations to provide those models. Looking forward to more engagement in the coming years and seeing new and innovative community aquaponic systems flourish locally and globally to inspire others.

Tawnya Sawyer is the Director of Colorado Aquaponics and a Board Member of the Aquaponics Association

Community Aquaponics Discussions, Theme #2: Location Considerations

In the first post of this series, we described what we mean by “Community Aquaponics”. Then, we identified the first of three themes from the Community Aquaponics breakout discussion groups: Community Involvement. In this post, we look at the second theme identified by the Community breakout discussion groups:

Location Considerations

By Tawnya Sawyer

There are so many creative locations that have already proven successful for community aquaponics. Some of those include: roof tops, community gardens and community centers, schools, universities and early childhood education centers, orphanages, food banks, homeless shelters, places of worship, detention centers, housing developments, villages and many more. Some of these locations enjoy the fresh food options and can use the aquaponic system as a means for education, nutrition, self-reliance, job skill training and food production.  Planning the proper location is a critical first step (prior to construction), to ensure that the system can be operated in the selected location long term. Some considerations for success include:

–Ensure that the greenhouse, community garden or aquaponic system is allowed to be operated within the city, county or zoning where it is being planned;

–Make sure that the location has adequate sunlight (southern facing), access to water, electricity, as well as necessary temperature and humidity controls (heating in winter if cold climate, and cooling in summer);

–Develop a partnership or leasehold agreement if the system will be installed in someone else’s building or property; and

–Consider any additional insurance, taxes, utilities and other expenses might be incurred where the system will be located.

Stay tuned to hear the last theme our discussion groups identified.

Tawnya Sawyer is the Director of Colorado Aquaponics and a Board Member of the Aquaponics Association

 

Community Aquaponics Discussions, Theme #1: Community Involvement

In the first post of this series, we described what we mean by “Community Aquaponics”. In this post, we talk about the first of three themes identified by the Community breakout discussion groups at our 2018 Hartford conference.

By Tawnya Sawyer

Community Involvement

Getting the community involved in building and operating a garden and aquaponic system can be a challenge. Since aquaponics requires continuous involvement to monitor the equipment, feed the fish and maintain the plants, it is critical to have a key person take the lead on these management activities. Often people that are excited to get started, may have a difficult time committing long term. Community volunteers can assist in maintaining the system, but without a strong lead, the system will be neglected. Some of the tactics discussed that have been implemented with success at various community aquaponic projects include:

  • Planning for and hiring a project lead or champion to manage the construction of the system. That same person(s) may also then be involved in daily operations once the system is up and running. There are examples of both paid and unpaid positions, ut the key is to ensure that some takes that ownership and responsibility. It is also necessary that they have the time and energy to commit to the necessary tasks.
  • Having a schedule, training and management of volunteers was necessary to ensure that everyone was participating, following food safety guidelines and working effectively together. Volunteer and intern activities were commonly coordinated by the farm manager person.
  • Having a means to get food or training to the community being served is necessary to meet people where they are. This has meant providing cooking classes, free samples, recipes, alternate forms of payment, different ways to pickup or deliver the food products, building trust and connections, and helping people value the quality of the food. Working with a community who has previously not had access to nutritious food is a learning curve and takes times to implement.

Tawnya Sawyer is the Director of Colorado Aquaponics and a Board Member of the Aquaponics Association

 

Community Aquaponics Discussions; Intro

By Tawnya Sawyer

The Hartford, CT Aquaponic Association conference included a Community aquaponics track for people to share their projects, stories and ideas on how aquaponics can create a positive outcome for communities, and also challenges that must be addressed to move forward. Having coordinated, presented, and attended the Community conference tracks since 2011, I continue to be impressed and inspired with the quality of the information.

Community aquaponics is all about getting highly nutritious food directly to the consumer without the hundreds to thousands of “food miles” or distance from farm to the table. Obviously this has become a popular concept in urban gardening and farming. But aquaponics can do this even better since an aquaponic system can be setup in a parking lot, repurposed in an old building, shed, barn, garage or greenhouse.

Community aquaponics is generally considered growing food for the purpose of serving a specific location or group of people. This may be for profit or non-profit oriented. Community aquaponics often has an open-door policy, meaning they encourage participation from volunteers, interns, schools, and the general public. They may have access to different funding methods that wouldn’t normally be available to someone building aquaponics for themselves or as a business. Some community aquaponics visions have been very altruistic, seeking to help others by all means, but those that have been successful have recognized the importance of operating like a business and ensuring they can be financially viable.

In the next three segments, we’ll discuss in more detail the top three themes that conference participants identified in community aquaponics: community involvement, location considerations, and financial challenges.

Tawnya Sawyer is the Director of Colorado Aquaponics and a Board Member of the Aquaponics Association

New Report Sets Targets for Global Sustainable Food Production

A new report from the EAT-Lancet Commission for Food, Planet, and Health offers scientific targets for global sustainable food production. The report also conveys an urgent need to change the way we produce our food.

See the report:  EAT Lancet Report

The EAT-Lancet Commission sets quantifiable targets for change, like reducing food system carbon dioxide emissions 2020. Researchers believe these parameters will return the food system to within sustainable planetary limits.

Reports such as the EAT-Lancet Commission for Food, Planet, and Health demonstrate the need for more efficient food production methods like aquaponics. Aquaponic growers around the world have proven we can grow fresh produce and healthy fish from barren deserts to urban rooftops. Aquaponics uses over 90% less water than traditional soil culture, does not emit toxic agricultural runoff, and does not require synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, or fertilizers.

Please see similar resources that call for a change in our food production system:

TEEB Agrifood

True Cost Accounting – Sustainable Food Trust

email: info@aquaponicsassociation.org