Survey Results: COVID’s Effect on U.S. Aquaponics

Researchers from Virginia Tech, Ohio State, and Engle-Stone Aquatic$ conducted a formal survey to determine the effect of COVID19 on U.S. aquaculture, aquaponics, and allied businesses, see: Commercial Aquaculture Survey Results.

And the researchers parsed out the data for aquaponics: COVID19 Aquaponics Survey Results.

Background

On March 23rd, 2020, Virginia Tech Seafood AREC and The Ohio State University Extension initiated an online survey of the U.S. aquaculture, aquaponics, and allied businesses. This survey was designed to capture and quantify the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the aquaculture, aquaponics, and allied industries. The survey will be distributed at the conclusion of every quarter for 2020, to attempt to capture the evolving impacts of COVID-19 over time.

 

Ed’s Heartbreaking Aquaponics Move; Classroom to Wine Cellar

By Ed Tivnan, Director of STEM Aquaponics
Aquaponics Association

On Monday, March 23, 2020, the faculty at the Tremont High School in Concord, Massachusetts got the closure orders from the Governor that our school building would be closing by noon the next day. So, I had 24 hours to disassemble and move out the best example of natural sustainability that could be found in any classroom in the country. For all the right reasons, yet it still broke my heart that our “Aquaponics in the Classroom” learning experience would end this way.

Classroom aquaponics record-keeping chart and graphs

Six weeks prior, starting in January 2020, my Tremont High School Biology students had been daily enjoying, while learning, Organic Gardening, Water Quality Testing, Teamwork and Next Generation Biological Practices, Big Ideas and Connections. They started off class by conducting 10 water quality tests: Air, Water, and Soil Temperatures, Nitrates, pH, Hardness, Alkalinity, Ammonia and Dissolved Oxygen.

One student was designated the Lead Scientist and lead the group of testing students and entered all information on a shared Google spreadsheet (See Spreadsheet). At the same time each student planted their own vegetable pots of Carrots, Broccoli, Kale, and Peas. They were deeply engaged in both the physical and scientific aspects of organic gardening. During weekly lab periods, students discussed trends in the water testing data to determine whether these trends were healthy or unhealthy for the three Keystone Communities of Plant, Fish and Microbes. At the same time students weekly sketched and journaled about the growth patterns of their individual plants. While also learning to take care the Aquaponics Unit “biological needs” by daily feeding the fish, weekly filling the fish tank when the water was low and pruning plants that needed attention.

As an educator I had a living classroom unit that contained all five major taxonomic kingdoms (Plants, Animals, Bacteria, Archaebacteria and Fungi) which I regularly incorporated into my Next Generation Science Standard Biology lesson plans. Furthermore, the entire school benefited by being entertained by the fish and the lush greenery in the wintertime.

So, when the order came to evacuate the school building, I had to reluctantly “think quickly on my feet”. My godson’s wife had asked me to build her an aquaponics unit in their home 2 months prior to the Governor’s order. Subsequently after finally disassembling the aquaponics unit that afternoon, I transferred the unit to their house in Newton New Hampshire. They had the perfect spot in their cellar, an abandoned wine cellar room. In a matter of three weeks the unit was reassembled, water was again circulating, most of the classroom plants were replanted, and fish were swimming again in fish tank, Subsequently we had successfully gone from a “An Aquaponics in the Classroom” to an “Aquaponics in the House.” Stayed tune for updates.

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!

 

Help us Fight for Aquaponics!

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

USDA Launches Innovative Ag Office – Announces $3M Grants

By Thomas Wheet and Brian Filipowich

The 2018 U.S. Farm Bill charged the USDA with creating the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (“Urban Ag Office”). The Farm Bill noted that urban agriculture can “contribute to the revitalization of abandoned or underutilized urban land, [bring] social and economic benefits to urban communities, and [create] beneficial impacts on the urban landscape.

After months of navigating the Congressional appropriations process, the necessary funding for the Urban Ag Office was finally signed into law in December 2019.

The Aquaponics Association reached out to the leadership of the Urban Ag Office and Congressional Offices to get a better understanding of the policies, funding opportunities, and timelines that will affect aquaponic growers.

Here is the Urban Ag Office’s Statement to the Aquaponics Association:

“Thank you for your interest in our efforts to stand up the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. The Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service was delegated responsibility to implement the 2018 Farm Bill provisions on behalf of USDA and I have been designated as the Interim Director for the Office. We are working collaboratively with other USDA agencies to ensure they each have an equal voice in establishing the office, consistent with the 2018 Farm Bill provisions, and they are able to contribute in areas that fall within their respective missions and areas of expertise.

“As you are aware, the 2018 Farm Bill authorized $25 million annually for the Office. However, the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriation was capped at $5 million and limits the degree to which we can implement the authorized activities. We are moving forward with standing up the office and the external federal advisory committee that serves to provide recommendations to the Secretary, forging a path to establish the urban/suburban pilot county committees, and developing announcements for grants and agreements provided for in the Farm Bill.

“We are planning a series of webinars that will be announced soon that are designed to provide interested persons and stakeholders information about the establishment of the office and the functions we anticipate implementing. We will ensure we keep your contact information on file so you receive information about these webinars.

Then, yesterday, as we were about to publish this article, the USDA released a new, $3 million in grants for urban agriculture initiatives that will increase food access, agricultural education, and innovative production methods within urban environments. Stay tuned for much more information on these grants in the coming weeks, and mark your calendars for a June 3, 2020 USDA webinar on the grant process.

Click to see the USDA Press Release on the $3 Million Urban Ag Grants for more information and webinar registration.

Aquaponics is already taking the urban agriculture and controlled environmental agriculture industries by storm. While accounting for $19 million in 2020, the market is expected to climb to $46 million by the end of 2026 (that’s a CAGR of over 11.5%).  This potential impact, however, could be greatly increased with federal guidance, funding, and business support that the Urban Ag Office is intended to provide.

The following list highlights several forms of support that the Aquaponics Association will continue to advocate for on behalf of the entire aquaponics industry: 

  • Funding: Due to high startup costs, aquaponics can be unattainable for many individuals and/or communities looking to begin an operation. We will continue to advocate the new Office to support aquaponics initiatives with appropriate levels of funding needed to develop adequate systems that will lead to successful operations (both for non-profit and for-profit organizations).
  • Clarity surrounding policies: Though widely understood as beneficial, aquaponics falls within an agricultural ‘no-mans-land’ surrounding guidelines at the local, state, and federal level. This grey-area is partially because aquaculture, food crops, and other crops all fall under different regulatory regimes. Basically the big bureaucracy gets confused and can’t function, like a deer in the headlights. Whether in regards to food safety, greenhouse sterility, organic certification, etc., the Aquaponics Association will promote policies that match the operational realities faced by aquaponic growers across the country.
  • Defining value: Beyond the monetary value surrounding the produce and protein sustainably grown in aquaponic operations, there are numerous social benefits to localizing food production in urban spaces. From local job creation and educational opportunities about agriculture/nutrition, to decreasing municipal carbon footprints associated with the traditional agricultural system, the Aquaponics Association will work to ensure that Congress and the USDA fully grasp the true value of aquaponic growing.

Are there other items that you’d like to make sure that we address directly with Congress and/or the USDA? If so, please provide feedback.

Read Also: USDA Launches Voluntary Aquaponics G.A.P. Food Safety Program

Help us Fight for Aquaponics!

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

 

USDA Voluntary G.A.P. Program

By Tawnya Sawyer

The USDA recently recognized aquaponics under their voluntary Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) program through the Specialty Crops Inspection (SCI) division. This program is in its pilot phase for audits and certification of selected aquaponics farms through the end of 2020. Having a set of guidelines for aquaponics helps to better align with the specifics of growing in soil-less media, using filtered fish waste for nutrient solution, and bio-integration of fish and plants in a growing facility.
Prior to this pilot program, aquaponic farm audits were subject to standard GAP guidelines designed for produce crops grown in a field or cultivated in a greenhouse. This created challenges for auditors trying to modify or interpret guidelines for other growing methods that don’t align or apply to aquaponics. By launching this pilot program, the USDA has indicated that aquaponics is viewed as a commercially viable industry worthy of its own audit guidelines and food safety certification. Find out more about the USDA’s Aquaponics GAP Pilot Program here.

 

Help us Fight for Aquaponics!

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

 

Hawaii Growers Donate Tilapia to the Homeless

By Vernon Byrd, 
University of the Nations, Kona Hawaii Campus

At the University of the Nations, Kona, Hawaii campus, we normally provide lettuce, bunching onions, basil, kale and parsley for the campus cafeteria. Although we normally produce about 800 heads of lettuce per week, the cafeteria uses more than that, but, we have had a surplus since all the students and most staff left the island due to Covid issues.

Some staff with their families, mostly from countries closed to travel, remain on the campus and we provide produce for them. We also are able to provide produce to the homeless feeding program and we will supplement what we have been giving them with some tilapia, which are ready for harvest.

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!

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

 

Home Aquaponics is Expanding During the Lockdown

(Aquaponics Victory Garden from Dr. George Brooks)

By Brian Filipowich

We recently sent a short, informal survey asking how the lockdown conditions are affecting aquaponic growers. This article provides the results for home / personal aquaponic growers. We got about 30 responses in this category. (Also see the results for Commercial Aquaponic Growers.)

Survey respondents indicate that the lockdown conditions are giving them more time to physically improve their systems, and to do more research to hike up the long and rewarding aquaponics learning curve. At the same time, personal growers are seeing increased value in growing large quantities of their own food.

Tawnya Sawyer from The Aquaponic Source stated that they have “seen an increase in home and hobby as well as farming customers who now have the time and energy to produce their own food. One of the most exciting things is that people who haven’t heard of aquaponics before are calling and looking to get started right away. They really love the idea that aquaponics is fish-powered, more natural than hydroponics, and more fun and easier than toiling in the soil.”

Several growers said the lockdown had no effect on their aquaponics. And zero respondents stated that the lockdown had negatively affected their growing. The one exception is possible supply shortages. One major theme among home growers is potential supply shortages, particularly for fish.

The lockdown conditions show us all how fragile the global food system can be. Aquaponics gives home growers the ability to produce large quantities of their own food and work towards food independence, even without access to soil. We will have to monitor supplies and make sure home growers have what they need to keep growing!

Here are quotes from home growers about how COVID has affected their aquaponics:

  • “We stocked up on feed, and the system is running well. We may run into supply issues down the road. Everything is healthy.” – Zack Walker
  • “I will be upgrading my system, building a greenhouse to give me more space to grow food for my extended family. I am also using my system to teach my grandkids about growing their own food.” – Black Hills Aquaponics
  • “I’ve planted fast crops for friends and family.” – Frank
  • “Personally I have a lot more time for my aquaponic system maintenance and upgrades since we can’t go to the college institute because of the outbreak. And also a lot more time to study about aquponics.” – Leon
  • “There are certain materials that are not readily available in my location , like bio balls, activated carbon bio rings and some other stuff. Unfortunately, imports are being restricted from China which is the source of my materials. This poses some threats to my aquaponic garden.” –Stephen P.
  • “Farming helps alleviate stress as always, but now I/we may be depending on my urban farm!” and “It’s hard to find fingerlings in Arizona.” – Paul
  • “The lockdown has given me a lot more time to focus on aquaponics.” – Barbara
  • “Our aquaponic system is a hobby/home system. It provides us with most of the green vegetables and tomatoes that we eat. We harvest two or three times a week for salads and cooking which keeps us out of the grocery store as much as would otherwise occur.” – Dennis Howard
  • “I have focused a lot more on the growing of my own food. It has always been a hobby for me and now we are ramping it up out of potential necessity.” – Chip Nelson
  • “We are witnessing more people expressing their interest with our aquaponics growing.” – Terence K.

RELATED — Read about Aquaponics Victory Gardens

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

 

Food Safety and E. coli in Aquaponic and Hydroponic Systems

This document is The Aquaponics Association’s response to a recent publication on E. coli in Aquaponic and Hydroponic systems.

PDF Version: Food Safety and E. Coli in Aquaponic and Hydroponic Systems

April 27, 2020

By Tawnya Sawyer; Nick Savidov, PhD; George Pate; and Marc Laberge 

Overview of the Study

On April 6, 2020, Purdue Agriculture News published a story about a study related to the contamination risk of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) in Aquaponic and Hydroponic production. The full study was published in MDPI Journal Horticulturae in January 2020.

Researchers conducted the study from December 2017 through February 2018. The Study consisted of side-by-side aquaponic and hydroponic systems in a controlled environment lab growing lettuce, basil, and tomatoes with tilapia. The purpose of the study was to identify the food safety risks associated with soilless systems. The study indicates that both the aquaponic and hydroponic systems contained Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) at the time of sampling. It did not find the presence of Listeria spp., or Salmonella spp. 

The authors contend that the aquaponic system and specifically the fish feces were likely the sources of E. coli. However, we believe that there is no evidence to prove that this was the actual source of contamination since the authors admit traceback was not performed, and there were several other possible introductions.

The pathogen was present in the water and on the root system of the plants. The researchers did not detect it in the edible portion of the plants. However, if the water is positive for a contaminant, and it accidentally splashes onto the edible portion of the crop throughout its life, or during harvest, this could still result in a food safety concern.

History of E. coli in Soil-less growing systems 

Until now, researchers have only discovered environmental E. coli in soilless growing systems. It is essential to note that there are hundreds of types of non-fecal coliform bacteria in the air, water, soil, as well as the fecal coliform bacteria represented mostly by E.coli in the waste of all mammals, humans, and some birds. A vast majority of these coliforms are perfectly harmless.

The E. coli found in this Study — Shiga toxin-producing O157:H7 — historically has been associated with warm-blooded mammals, more specifically bovine fed corn in feedlots (Lim JY et al. 2007), as well as swine and turkeys. Further research must be performed to prove that cold-blooded, non-mammal aquatic species such as tilapia can harbor this strain of pathogenic E. coli. A wide group of studies, university professors and industry professionals currently refute the possibility that tilapia can harbor this strain. The lack of evidence detailing the ability of aquatic animals to harbor E. coli makes the fish contaminated with this specific strain of bacteria very rare and suspect.

Many foodborne illnesses from fresh produce such as romaine lettuces, green onions, herbs, and sprouts, are traced back to the soil; the irrigation water used in these crops (Solomon et al. 2002); the seed stock; or poor sanitation in handling facilities.

There are a wide variety of community and commercial aquaponic and hydroponic growing facilities that routinely perform pathogen testing and have not identified this pathogen present. If it was present, traceback procedures would be followed to identify and remove the source, as well as any necessary food safety precautions and recalls performed.

Our Position

The Aquaponic Association and its members agree that food safety and proper handling practices are critical to commercializing our industry and the safety of our customers. One thing that the study points out is that a contaminant can occur in a soilless system, which creates a potential food safety concern. We agree on this; however, we have numerous concerns with the procedures and statements made in the publication.

We have reached out to the professional investigator on this study Hye-Ji Kim to get answers to essential questions that the study publication does not adequately address. There are significant gaps and questions with the study.

 Concerns About the Study Findings and Publication 

Lack of Traceability

The study group is unsure how the pathogen was introduced into the two systems. They admit that no traceback was performed to identify the source of contamination. They speculate both in the study and in their email response that this pathogen was:

1) Accidentally introduced

2) That it is from the fish feces in the aquaponics system that splashed into the hydroponic system through the open top of the fish tank during feeding,

3) that it was from contaminated fish stock (which were provided by the Purdue Animal Sciences Research and Education Center)

4) That it was human contamination from visitors or operator handling issues.

A traceback was not conducted as it was not within the scope of the study (Kim personal communications). We disagree; the discovery of O157:H7 strain in the university greenhouse with the suspicion of fish being contaminated should have resulted in immediate action in order to track down the source of contamination and prevent infection of the university students and staff. Outside of a University setting, traceback would have been mandatory in a commercial facility. It is questionable that the University did not perform these procedures because it was “out of the scope of the study”.

Questioning Fish Feces as the Source of Contamination

Blaming fish feces as the contaminating source seems incredibly misleading when so many other options exist, and no traceback proved that as the source. The contents of the fish intestines were tested for the presence of E. coli, and none was found (Kim personal communications). It seems that if the fish does not have STEC E. coli inside its gut, then it is more likely the fish feces being positive would be related to the contaminated water that the feces was floating in.

In wild fish species, levels of E. coli appear to follow trends similar to ambient water and sediment concentrations; as concentrations in their environments rise, so do concentrations within the fish (Guillen et al., 2010).

Furthermore, it seems very suspect that a two-month-old system in a controlled environment lab could have been so quickly contaminated. It is well-known that E.coli cannot survive in a biologically-active environment, such as an anaerobic digester or aquaponic system (T.Gao et al., 2011). E. coli are outcompeted by other microorganisms, which adapted to survive in the environment outside animal guts much better than E. coli. Thus, E. coli O157:H7, which is specially adapted to live in cattle guts, will inevitably be replaced by other microorganisms.

As for the hydroponic system showing positive results, this also seems suspect if the nutrients were synthetic, as there would be very little chance for the E. coli to survive without a biological host or continuous contamination source being present. An accidental exposure in the hydroponic system would have become diluted over time, or the pathogen died off to the point that they would have been undetectable. The fact is the organic matter in hydroponics is virtually absent and, therefore, provides a poor environment for E. coli growth and propagation (Dankwa, 2019). Therefore. one would need a continuous source, not an accidental one (like splashing), in order to maintain the E. coli population in hydroponics.

Since both systems were contaminated, we suggest that there is a more likely common pathogen source that the researchers did not correctly identify and remove. The source of contamination could be from source water, filtering system, repurposed equipment, airborne in the greenhouse or HVAC system, human vector, lab equipment, the seed stock, nutrients, or other inputs.

The Purdue Animal Research and Education Center, where the researchers sourced the fish, is an operation that also has swine, cattle, and poultry production. Research suggests that pathogenic E. coli can travel 180 m through airborne exposure (Berry et al., 2015). Airborne exposure poses a more significant risk to controlled environments as pathogens can persist in the HVAC system (Riggio et al., 2019). STEC has the potential to live in dust particles for up to 42 weeks, which can act as a possible vector of contamination if there is a continuous source. Therefore, even a slight possibility of the pathogenic Shiga-producing O157:H7 strain of E. coli transfer from the Animal Research and Education Center resulting in the uncontrolled cross-contamination of other research labs and facilities certified below Biosafety level 2 not designed to work with the pathogenic bacteria would raise a serious concern about the existing safety practices (Boston University).

Lack of 3rd Party or Peer University Test Verification

It has also been recognized that there is a high frequency of false-positive signals in a real-time PCR-based “Plus/Minus” assay (Nowrouzian FL, et al., 2009). Hence the possibility that the PCR verification method may have resulted in inaccurate results. The pathogen was not verified by a 3rd party lab to be actual STEC E.coli O157:H7. Only positive or negative results were obtained for this study.

We recommend several other universities and third-party labs to run samples and validate the results. However, no samples have been provided, which may be impossible to obtain based on the study being conducted in early 2018. Without this verification, there are questions about the possibility of false-positives due to the presence of environmental E.coli, fecal coliforms, or a wide variety of other bacteria commonly found in nutrient-rich environments (Konstantinidis et al., 2011).

Impact of Sterilization

The study conclusion suggests that sterilization efforts are critical. “Our results indicated that contamination with bacterial pathogens could likely be reduced in aquaponic and hydroponic systems if the entire systems were thoroughly sanitized before each use and pathogen-free fish were used for the operation.” This statement is inaccurate and could be detrimental to proper food safety practices. As the microflora of the system develops, it creates an environment that can suppress phytopathogens (Bartelme et al., 2018) and other zoonotic pathogens as a result of antibiotic compounds released by beneficial bacteria (Compant et al., 2005). In Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS), some microbial communities take over 15 years to develop (Bartelme et al., 2017), resulting in greater stability over time.

Many papers support this hypothesis with regards to probiotics in wastewater treatment, aquaculture, and hydroponics. Microbial community analysis also depicts a greater microbial diversity in aquaponics over decoupled or aquaculture systems (Eck et al., 2019), indicating a more significant potential for suppression of pathogens in coupled aquaponic systems over RAS or decoupled aquaponic system. No pathogens were discovered in a mature coupled aquaponics system during 18 years of continuous research in Canada since 2002 (Savidov, personal communications).

These findings support the argument that more biologically mature systems are less likely to develop pathogens and that periodic sanitation should not be done outside of initial start-up unless a zoonotic pathogen (Henderson 2008), is detected. If a pathogen is found, producers should follow proper sanitation and recall procedures.

Conclusion

Overall, this and other research into food safety are ongoing, and new information becomes available continuously to help shape the best practices for proper greenhouse management. As the Aquaponic Association, we hope to provide the most accurate and reliable resources for this purpose. At the same time, we hope to reduce the possibility of studies like this creating unnecessary fear, or unsubstantiated claims that could harm the growth of the aquaponic (and hydroponic) industry. When a document like this is published, it will be quoted by the media, and referenced in other studies as if it is an absolute. Other research must be performed to validate or negate this study’s outcomes.

Our findings conclude that while there is a low chance of the persistence of a pathogen in properly designed aquaponic and hydroponic systems, there is still a potential concern. No agricultural system is immune to this. Compared to soil production, soil-less crops grown in a controlled environment are far less likely to become infected pathogens from mammals, birds and other creatures which are difficult to prevent in field crop production. Human contamination or poor handling practices are of significant concern (Pattillo et al., 2015). The best way to avoid risk is to adhere to food safety guidelines set forth by the USDA, GlobalGAPs, the Aquaponic Association, and other accredited organizations.

contact: info@aquaponicsassociation.org

References

Bartelme, R.P., McLellan, S.L., Newton, R.J., 2017. Freshwater Recirculating Aquaculture System Operations Drive Biofilter Bacterial Community Shifts around a Stable Nitrifying Consortium of Ammonia-Oxidizing Archaea and Comammox Nitrospira. Front. Microbiol. 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2017.00101

Bartelme, R.P., Oyserman, B.O., Blom, J.E., Sepulveda-Villet, O.J., Newton, R.J., 2018. Stripping Away the Soil: Plant Growth Promoting Microbiology Opportunities in Aquaponics. Front. Microbiol. 9, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.00008

Berry, E.D., Wells, J.E., Bono, J.L., Woodbury, B.L., Kalchayanand, N., Norman, K.N., Suslow, T.V., López-Velasco, G., Millner, P.D., 2015. Effect of Proximity to a Cattle Feedlot on Escherichia coli O157:H7 Contamination of Leafy Greens and Evaluation of the Potential for Airborne Transmission. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 81, 1101–1110. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.02998-14

Compant, S., Duffy, B., Nowak, J., Clément, C., Barka, E.A., 2005. Use of Plant Growth-Promoting Bacteria for Biocontrol of Plant Diseases: Principles, Mechanisms of Action, and Future Prospects. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 71, 4951–4959. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.71.9.4951-4959.2005

Dankwa, A.S., 2019. Safety  Assessment of Hydroponic Closed System 127. https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4052&context=etd

Eck, M., Sare, A., Massart, S., Schmautz, Z., Junge, R., Smits, T., Jijakli, M., 2019. Exploring Bacterial Communities in Aquaponic Systems. Water 11, 260. https://doi.org/10.3390/w11020260

Guillen, Wrast, Environmental Institute of Houston, 2010, Fishes as Sources of E. coli Bacteria in Warm Water Streams, https://www.uhcl.edu/environmental-institute/research/publications/documents/10-015guillenetalfishreport.pdf

Henderson, H., 2008. Direct and indirect zoonotic transmission of Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 232, 848–859. https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.232.6.848

Konstantinidis, Chengwei Luo, 2011. Georgia Tech Institute, Environmental E. coli: New way to classify E. coli bacteria and test for fecal contamination, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110411152527.htm

Lim JY et al., Escherichia coli O157:H7 colonization at the rectoanal junction of long-duration culture-positive cattle. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007;73:1380–1382 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1828644/

Boston University Agent Sheet E.coli EHEC or STEC) (https://www.bu.edu/researchsupport/safety/rohp/agent-information-sheets/e-coli-0157h7-agent-information-sheet/).

Nowrouzian FL1, Adlerberth I, Wold AE., 2009 High frequency of false-positive signals in a real-time PCR-based “Plus/Minus” assay. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19161539

Riggio, G., Jones, S., Gibson, K., 2019. Risk of Human Pathogen Internalization in Leafy Vegetables During Lab-Scale Hydroponic Cultivation. Horticulturae 5, 25. https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae5010025

Solomon et al., Effect of Irrigation Method on Transmission to and Persistence

of Escherichia coli O157:H7 on Lettuce Journal of Food Protection, Vol. 65, No. 4, 2002, Pages 673–676 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11952218

  1. Gao*, T. Haine,  A. Chen,  Y. Tong, and X. Li, 2011, 7 logs of toxic strain of E coli  were removed by mesophilic AD process while ~ 5 logs increase of the strain were seen in water control with the same condition for 7 days

Pattillo*, Shaw, Currey, Xie, Rosentrater, 2015, Aquaponics Food Safety and Human Health, https://southcenters.osu.edu/sites/southc/files/site-library/site-documents/abc/aquaponics_workshop/AquaponicsFoodSafetyandHumanHealthAllenPatillo.pdf

 

Lawsuit Threatens Aquaponics Organic Eligibility

The Center for Food Safety (CFS), along with a coalition of organic farms and stakeholders, filed a lawsuit challenging the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) decision to allow hydroponic operations to be certified organic. The Court has set a hearing date for June 11, 2020.

The lawsuit claims that hydroponic operations do not comply with the Organic Food Production Act because they do not foster soil fertility, as required in the Act. The lawsuit mentions aquaponics, but does not make a legal distinction between aquaponics and hydroponics. A decision against the USDA would likely have the same effect for aquaponics as hydroponics. See the lawsuit.

Aquaponic, hydroponic, and controlled-environment growers must fight to ensure our crops stay Organic-eligible!

Aquaponics is Organic with a Capital “O”!

Aquaponics fits the Organic mission. The Organic label is about empowering consumers to identify products that match their values. Consumers do not prefer organic because it is grown in soil; they prefer it because it is pesticide-free, environmentally sustainable, and relies on natural ecosystems for plant growth. So the question is: does aquaponics align with what the consumer expects when they purchase Organic? YES!

“Organic” is perceived by consumers to mean:

Production without prohibited chemicals — the NOSB publishes a list of banned substances that are not allowed in production. Aquaponic systems are able to flourish without these chemicals. Aquaponic systems rely on Organic materials and a robust microbial ecosystem for natural system immunity.

Production that fosters the cycling of resources, ecological balance, and biodiversity conservation — Aquaponics can be constructed as closed-loop ecosystems in which only the minimum required water and nutrients are added and with minimal or no discharge. Aquaponics has also proven it can produce more food than soil culture per land area, thus saving more of the natural environment from the toll of agriculture.

Production that relies on biological ecosystems to support plant health — Aquaponic production relies on a robust microflora in the root zone—made of the same types and numbers of bacteria and fungi that thrive in soil. This flora converts nutrients into forms available to plants and maintains plant health by reinforcing naturally-occurring mechanisms of disease resistance—just as in a healthy soil. (see Soil Food Web Report)

Production that responds to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices — Consumers expect that organic produce has been grown with a healthy human element, where local customs, expertise, and ingenuity can overcome droughts, concrete jungles, and climate changes. Aquaponics allows environmentally-sensitive agriculture where growing in soil isn’t possible and dramatically expands the market of Organic produce.

Aquaponics is Essential for the Sustainability of Our Food System

Aquaponics is critical to improving the sustainability of our agricultural system, but revoking Organic eligibility would move this industry backwards.

The benefits of aquaponics include: dramatic water savings, reduced resource inputs, less fertilizer runoff that causes toxic dead zones, shorter supply chains and carbon emissions, greater food safety with controlled-environment growing, and greater production per land area.

In an era of climate change, resource depletion, and rapid population growth, the Organic price premium is a critical incentive to draw more aquaponic growers into the industry. If this lawsuit revokes aquaponics’ Organic eligibility, this vital industry will not grow as quickly and our environment, health, and economy will suffer.

Background Info

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted 8 to 7 in 2018 to continue the Organic eligibility of aquaponic and hydroponic operations. The Aquaponics Association fought to maintain aquaponics’ organic eligibility by submitting written comments for NOSB meetings; collecting and delivering over 200 signatures in favor of organic aquaponics; providing in-person statements and answering panel questions at NOSB meetings; and by taking Members of the NOSB to a tour of Flourish Farms, a commercial aquaponic farm and Aquaponics Association Affiliate Member in Denver, Colorado.

Aquaponics aligns with the values of Organic that consumers expect. Rather than placing a greater toll on our environment and health, we should reject this lawsuit and support Organic Aquaponics.

contact: info@aquaponicsassociation.org

Do you want to help the Aquaponics Association Fight for Aquaponics?

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

Remote Aquaponics During The Lockdown in Amman, Jordan

By Jonathan Reyes & Daniel Robards
Aquaponics AI — Amman, Jordan

Jordan has made international news regarding the swift and extreme lockdown of international travel, businesses and curfews. This means no driving, no stores are allowed to open, a complete shutdown of the supply chain. We were officially at home with a farm that needed us. This swift lockdown had caused us to think creatively about remotely managing our system. Permit requests were difficult to obtain due to the swiftness of the decisions and various infrastructural challenges. This forced us to remotely train a local farmer in Arabic using only WhatsApp, video cameras and some sensors we had installed.

Unfortunately, we had a massacre with the fish as they had just started showing symptoms of a fungus from transport/environmental stress. We couldn’t travel there to salt them and couldn’t explain it quick enough to avoid deaths. However, this challenge helped us really communicate aquaponics to our farmer and he now runs the system by himself. It was honestly trial by fire and he sends us daily photos of him being super excited to see the growth. He is also very impressed with the volume and cleanliness in the root systems of the DWC rafts.

So while we wish we were out there to see our strawberries start to grow, our mint go “gangbusta” and tomatoes flourish, we are still very pleased to see a local take over the system and be excited about the potential.

Before lockdown we managed to harvest hundreds of leafy greens and give them out. Three weeks into the quarantine we are still getting feedback from people saying they are still getting fresh lettuce (we had provided live-root plants). So while some produce was rotting in the fields and never made it to the homes, others were experiencing beautiful fresh produce that had been started in an aquaponic farm and was sitting at home in a glass of water.

This is why we are pushing rooftop farms at Tulua (https://tulua.io) and empowerment through technology at Aquaponics AI (https://aquaponics.ai). We truly love aquaponics and want to see everyone doing it.

Aquaponics AI is an Affiliate Member of the Aquaponics Association

 

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!

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 Downey 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

 

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

 

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.

 

 

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: The Aquaponic Source

The Aquaponic Source will be joining us in the Putting Out Fruits Vendor Showroom! Interested in a vendor table? Scroll down on the Putting Out Fruits Homepage.

About the Aquaponic Source:
Since 2009 Tawnya and JD Sawyer have been fully dedicated to practicing and teaching aquaponics. Through their business Colorado Aquaponics they have built and operated three community-focused aquaponics greenhouses – Flourish Farms in Arvada (3,000sq ft), the GrowHaus (3,000sq ft) and the Mental Health Center of Denver (5,000sq ft). After purchasing The Aquaponic Source in 2015, they expanded their team to provide a wide range of products, kit aquaponic systems, design and consulting services and various levels of training.

From Tawnya and JD: “We get the amazing opportunity to engage, inspire and empower home hobbiest, community leaders, faith based organizations, schools and farmers everyday. Our Mission is to provide people and communities access to locally grown food and resilient farming solutions through education, demonstration, and innovation. Growing Food, Growing Minds, Growing Community!”

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 **

 

GLOBAL GAP Made Simple

GLOBAL G.A.P. Made Simple
A One-Day Pre-Conference GLOBAL G.A.P. Food Safety Certification Seminar

Thursday, September 19, 2019, 9:00am – 4:00pm
Capital Plaza Hotel
Presented by The Farm Plan and the Aquaponics Association
Taught by Juli Ogden, GLOBAL G.A.P. Farm Assurer

** Wednesday night September 18 is added to the Capital Plaza Hotel room block to allow for stays the night before.

In this lively 1-day pre-Aquaponics Association Conference workshop you learn the rules of GLOBAL G.A.P. and we do over 200 pages of paperwork together!

GLOBAL G.A.P. is a food safety certification that applies to all farming methods and works great for aquaponics. Farms that sell produce to retailers need food safety certification.

You will receive:

  • The Farm Plan’s report system of your required forms for your 92 -topic farm policy
  • Risk assessments and management plans to add your unique situations
  • Detailed farm and paperwork checklists
  • worker-training program a sign kit and clear instructions on each page

The Farm Plan contains only and exactly what is required. You will finish this training with our on-farm checklist firmly in hand and the attitude to get it done.

More about Juli Ogden, Lead Trainer and GLOBALG.A.P Farm Assurer

In an industry known for complexity, Juli is pioneering a way of doing things that is within reach of every farm, no matter how large or how small.   

She is also a food safety expert, speaker and in her former career, Juli was a real estate expert, author and radio show host for Business Talk Radio and Lifestyle Talk Radio.  Juli was Washington State Small Business Woman of the Year at age 32.  

Her no-nonsense, easy to understand approach to food safety is refreshing and her presentations are packed with tips and advice the audience can apply to their own operations.

Juli became interested in GLOBAL G.A.P when it was required for her Washington state cherry orchard. She teaches food safety from the farmer’s point of view. 

Get your answers right in the webinar. You may email, text or ask short questions live. 

 

Who needs to be certified?
Farms who’s produce ends up sold to retailers

Who is the farm plan?
The Farm Plan is a small U.S. corporation who helps farms get GLOBALG.A.P. certified.  Although trained and licensed by GLOBALG.A.P. The Farm Plan is not employed by or contracted to them.  We are farmers who work exclusively with and for farmers

What crops need certification?
We work with every fruit and vegetable crop.  Orchards, row crops and even aquaponic lettuce greenhouses. Processing and storage facilities too.

What is a GLOBALG.A.P. certified Farm Assurer?
The Farm Plan / Juli Ogden has been trained in by GLOBALG.A.P. in the rules, passed their tests and was duly licensed.  It really means we have been approved to be an independent consultant.  We do not represent, work for or report to GLOBALG.A.P.  Our clients receive full confidentiality.

When do I start?
It’s much easier when you give yourself time to assess and get any needed improvements done. Don’t let that scare you.  Most farms already grow safe food.  We will show you how to prove it as inexpensively as possible.

When will I be certified?
Step 1:  Clean up and organize the farm.
Step 2:  Complete your policy, risk assessments, logs and management plans.
Step 3:  Put the paperwork into use for at least four months.
Step 4:  Document everything
Step 5:  Apply for your audit appointment
Step 6:  Make sure you pass.  Most farms have a few corrections needed after the auditor inspection happens.  That’s ok and normal.  You will be given a list and usually 28 days. Corrections can usually be emailed in.  Your certificate will arrive several weeks after the audit date.

When can I claim my crop is certified?
Your crop is actually certified four months into the past and 8 months into the future from your certification date.  That typically means the entire crop for the year of certification is covered.

Where does The Farm Plan work?

Everywhere.  We  travel to many places for custom work and to give workshops.   Get a group of neighboring farms together and we can set up a workshop in your area  If you just want the paperwork and would like to learn on your own that is no problem.  We will ship it to you from our office in Wenatchee, Washington.

Why do I need to be certified?
Maintain and grow your access to markets. Ultimately, GLOBALG.A.P Certification is voluntary. Though keep in mind that beginning in 2018 American farms must meet the standards of the US Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  GLOBALG.A.P has many overlaps with this standard, and the two are somewhat complimentary.

How do I get certified?
The Farm Plan makes it simple by providing the forms, logs, risk assessments, management plans and your farm policy. That policy set your standards is a mandatory part of your food safety system.  The policies are contained in 8 pages, cover around 70 topics and teach you the rules in a very effective way.

How much more can I do in a 24 hour day?
This is a very common and logical reaction to food safety. The rules were mostly written by people who have a support staff and a regular paycheck. Translating the written rules into workable solutions is one of the basic goals behind The Farm Plan.

How did The Farm Plan Get Started?
Juli Ogden read every rule over and over – for what it said and what it did not say. She organized the jobs into the seasons of farming and translated the rules into the everyday language.  Today, Juli helps farms of all sizes. She creates custom systems for large farms and gives workshops others. Using The Farm Planner, attendees spend an intense day learning, asking questions and completing about 75% of the annual paperwork . The Farm Plan includes every policy, risk assessment and form required.

Four part seminar Series includes….

Part 1:  The Jump Start.  First, a 5 minute “who, what, why, where, when & how” and then we jump right into developing your Farm Policy.

Part 2: Daily Logs and Forms.  Quickly learn which logs apply to your farm and exactly how to use them.

Part 3: Pre-Harvest Risk Assessments. This is the toughest job and we’ll do it together!

Part 4: What to Do. Harvest, Worker Training, Signs and More Answers!  

 If you haven’t yet signed up, you may now register for the organic session described below.


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