Take the Global Aquaponic Practitioner Survey

Click: Head to the Global Aquaponic Practitioner Survey

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

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

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

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

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

New Aquaponics Report from ATTRA

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

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

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

Environmental Report Urges Food System Changes

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

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

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

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

Aquaponics Funding Alert

 

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

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

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

Read more: MBE Aquaculture 

Conference Dates: September 20-22 @ KSU!

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

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

Kentucky State University hosts one of the most advanced aquaculture research programs in the nation, including indoor aquaponics research systems, saltwater aquaponics research, a 30’ x 70’ aquaponics demonstration greenhouse, a 10,000sq foot recirculating aquaculture research building, and 33 research ponds.

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

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

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

contact: info@aquaponicsassociation.org

Community Aquaponics Discussions, Theme #3: Financial Challenges

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

Financial Challenges

By Tawnya Sawyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community Aquaponics Discussions, Theme #2: Location Considerations

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

Location Considerations

By Tawnya Sawyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Community Aquaponics Discussions, Theme #1: Community Involvement

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

By Tawnya Sawyer

Community Involvement

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

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

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

 

Community Aquaponics Discussions; Intro

By Tawnya Sawyer

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

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

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

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

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

New Report Sets Targets for Global Sustainable Food Production

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

See the report:  EAT Lancet Report

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

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

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

TEEB Agrifood

True Cost Accounting – Sustainable Food Trust

email: info@aquaponicsassociation.org

PODCAST – Assoc Chairman Talks Aquaponics’ Future

Aquaponics Association Chairman Brian Filipowich discusses the future of aquaponics with Lee Rinehart of the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

Listen to the podcast from the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT):

 Aquaponics, a Primer

full link to podcast: https://attra.ncat.org/category/audio/

Farm Bill Creates Office for Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production

By Brian Filipowich

The 2018 Farm Bill (H.R.2) passed both the House and Senate and will be signed into law by the President imminently. The Bill creates the USDA Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production which should boost aquaponics, hydroponics, and other sustainable growing methods.

The Bill establishes the Office “to encourage and promote urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production
practices.” Related to this new Office, the Bill:

  • Provides for the assignment of a farm number for rooftop, indoor, and other urban farms.
  • Provides authority to award competitive grants to operate community gardens or
    nonprofit farms, educate a community on food systems, nutrition, environmental impacts,
    and agricultural production, and help offset start-up costs for new and beginning farmers.
  • Establishes an Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Advisory Committee.
  • Establishes pilot projects to increase compost and reduce food waste, and create urban
    and suburban county committees.

In addition to the Office for Urban Agriculture, the Farm Bill also establishes the Urban, Indoor, and Other Emerging Agriculture Production Research, Education, and Extension Initiative. This Initiative does the following:

  • Authorizes competitive research and extension grants to support research, education, and
    extension activities for the purposes of enhancing urban, indoor, and other emerging
    agricultural production.
  • Provides $4 million mandatory for each fiscal year 2019-2023.
  • Requires the Secretary to conduct a census of urban, indoor, and other emerging
    agricultural production.

Unfortunately, there is plenty of bad along with the good: this Farm Bill continues negative policies that stifle smaller growers and wastefully support large industrial monoculture growers. Nevertheless, it is welcome to see the Federal Government acknowledging the need for investment in urban and sustainable growing.

Hopefully the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production can meaningfully support the expansion of aquaponics!

Brian Filipowich serves as Chairman of the Aquaponics Association

Commercial Aquaponics Breakout Discussions

By John Roe

This year at our Putting Up Shoots conference in Hartford, Connecticut, I was fortunate to participate in a lively, encouraging, open discussion group entitled, “Overcoming Common Problems in Commercial Aquaponics”.  The thesis of the discussion was centered around answering common pitfalls, problems, and other hardships that have the potential to hinder aquaponics commercial operations in their infancy.  

The round table style discussion featured prominent commercial grower, Ken Armstrong from Ouroboros Farms, who generously opened his knowledge bank to help answer any questions asked from the room.  The discussion took place in three parts, over three days, with the group seeking to crowd fund ideas and shared personal experiences in overcoming common hardships.  The questions ranged from topics such as selecting real estate to helpful websites.  The group was fortunate to have most of their questions answered either from Ken Armstrong or another participant.

The thought behind a simple discussion group such as this was to build out a framework that will help growers that are hopeful to become commercial but have limitations, fears, or setbacks for any number of reasons.  We know, at the Association, that the future of aquaponics depends largely on a freshman class of commercial growers who seek to continue to build out our footprint nationally, help their communities locally, and to survive the hardships of any agrarian business.  The more we are able to help one another succeed, the better off we all will be.  This discussion was at the very heart of this message.

Recap of 2018 Hartford Aquaponic Tours

Recap of 2018 Hartford Aquaponic Tours

By Tawnya Sawyer      

Every year, aquaponic tours are a highlight of the Aquaponics Association Conference. This year’s Putting Up Shoots Conference in Hartford, CT included tours of three very different aquaponic systems: one hobby-homestead system growing into a commercial-scale farm, one community center with sustainability at the core, and one repurposed warehouse building with visions of creating the City that Feeds Itself.

Bigelow Brook Farm located at Rob Torcellini’s homestead has been a virtual community model for years. By sharing stories of construction, planting, harvesting, fish health, and many successes and failures, Rob has empowered people all over the planet with his aquaponic system. For years across the world wide web, we have grown with Rob in his geodesic dome. We have learned to install a window kit into a fish tank (scary at first to cut a big hole in a tank, but not really that difficult once you know the steps.) We have learned the do’s and don’ts of heating, and lots of other key steps in operating aquaponics. At the tour, Rob had the opportunity to showcase his new greenhouse nearing completion. He described the components of his filtration system, RaftMaster deep water culture structure, cool wireless sensor systems, and Growgrips. Rob plans to be a key part of the local food system, delivering food and offering tours and education within the surrounding community. We look forward to many more of Rob’s videos and seeing his new commercial greenhouse up and growing.

Keney Park Sustainability Project on Saturday was a great representation of blending soil gardening and indoor greenhouse aquaponic growing, with so much more. This project really took “community” to the next level with its urban park land and environmental stewardship, children and family programs, job skills training, nutrition, health and wellness, farm stands and a mobile market. Herb Virgo who led the tours and leads the charge in the program, really shined the light on the importance and value of community programs like this. The greenhouses were home to goldfish and koi, while they were growing a variety of leafy greens in towers, NFT (nutrient film technique), and media beds. The abundance continued outdoors where there were raised gardens, mushroom production, bees, and lots of open space for community education and engagement. Keney Park is a wonderful inspiration to many who see the vision of urban farming and community engagement in their home town.

Trifecta EcoSystems was the final tour. Located in an older repurposed warehouse building, this aquaponic system highlights indoor crop production rivaling an outdoor commercial farm. As their mission states, “With aquaponics, we’re empowering communities to grow their own food while inspiring future generations to play an active role in our world’s food system.” The Trifecta team lives this community model working to revitalize the area and promote “The City that Feeds Itself”. Trifecta uses deep water culture to produce a variety of cooking and salad greens, which are delivered to local restaurants, and farmers markets. They also provide educational programs and innovate through research and development. While indoor growing has seen its share of challenges, Trifecta is blazing the trail for growing food in an otherwise barren warehouse space. We need more models like Trifecta’s for local food production.

Where we will be in 2019!?

We are looking forward to the 2019 Aquaponic Association Conference and more exciting aquaponic tour locations. Association Members, please make sure to participate in the current survey (via email) so that your voice can be heard in where you think the conference should be hosted in September, 2019!

Tawnya Sawyer is the Manager of Flourish Farm (CO) and serves on the Aquaponics Association Board of Governors

 

Some more tour photos:

Fish at Bigelow Brook Farm

Plants in Bigelow Brook Farm Geodesic Dome

Keney Park Sustainability Project

Trifecta Ecosystems, aquaponics in an old factory

Trifecta Ecosystems

Keney Park Sustainability Project

Climate Change Report Highlights the Need for Aquaponics

By Brian Filipowich

The U.S. Government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment (November, 2018) highlights the need to adopt aquaponics at a large scale nationwide.

The report states: “over the next few decades, overall, yields from major U.S. crops are expected to decline as a consequence of increases in temperatures and possibly changes in water availability, soil erosion, and disease and pest outbreaks”; furthermore: “[c]limate change is also expected to lead to large-scale shifts in the availability and prices of many agricultural products across the world, with corresponding impacts on U.S. agricultural producers and the U.S. economy.”

So how can aquaponics help?

Aquaponics is a method of growing fish and plants in efficient, recirculating systems. Aquaponics does not require soil, and is practiced across the nation from cities to deserts. The ability to grow food anywhere allows all regions of the U.S. to create their own food supply without relying on long-distance, carbon-intensive food transport.

Aquaponics requires over 90% less water than traditional soil growth, making production far less susceptible to water shortages.

Aquaponics does not require synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or antibiotics.

Also, aquaponic systems not only produce fruits and vegetables, but also edible fish — an extremely efficient source of healthy protein that can be grown in any environment.

Unfortunately, the U.S. economy is not set up to incentivise efficient food production methods like aquaponics, hydroponics, and vertical agriculture. A free market economy is based on producers incorporating all costs of production into the prices for goods. But certain costs of agriculture are not realized at the time of production and are passed to other parties or future generations, creating artificially low prices for inefficient goods.

Modern large-scale agriculture uses excessive amounts of water, carbon, pesticides, antibiotics and fertilizers. These elements create enormous costs passed to others such as climate change adaptation, healthcare costs, food waste, antibiotic resistance, and toxic nutrient runoff.

Conversely, aquaponic systems can grow much more efficiently, but without a means to monetize this efficiency.

The U.S. Government Climate Report highlights the need to change the current system: “[n]umerous adaptation strategies are available to cope with adverse impacts of climate variability and change on agricultural production. These include altering what is produced, modifying the inputs used for production, adopting new technologies, and adjusting management strategies.”

It will take a large-scale, concerted nationwide effort to change the way we incentivize food production. Until that point, our economic system will steer consumers towards produce that adds to the problem of climate change, and is less able to adapt to climate change.

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/23/health/climate-change-report-bn/index.html?no-st=1543264267

 

Putting Up Shoots Perspective from the Host

Perspective on the Aquaponics Association’s September, 2018 Conference in Hartford, CT

By Spencer Curry

I’ve been a member of the Aquaponics Association ever since the Denver conference in 2012 and have been to four conferences since then.  Back in 2012, I only had a basic desktop setup going. In fact, I returned from the conference to find that my little desktop system had flooded while I was away, soaking my bed in fish water.  That was just a small setback compared to the wealth of information and overwhelming feeling of community I found with the Aquaponics Association.

I still vividly remember workshops with Murray Hallam, Glenn Martinez, Rob Torcellini, and Max Meyers, and incredible conversations with more people than I could list here.  At the time, I had only experienced aquaponics through a few YouTube videos, so I felt like I had entered a whole new world with a wealth of information to be explored.

My partners and I took our inspiration from the conference and have been hard at work ever since, culminating in the incredible honor of hosting the 2018 Putting Up Shoots conference in my home state of Connecticut.  We grew from a small desktop setup to running a 3,500 sq. ft. indoor controlled environment aquaponics farm and building/servicing systems for dozens of clients around the state. However, with all of the hubbub behind hosting a conference, it didn’t hit me until the end of the first tour we gave during the 2018 conference just how far we have come as a company and as an industry since 2012.  Being able to showcase our creation to all of the people who have influenced, advised, and mentored us for the past six years will remain among the proudest moments of my life.

It also became apparent that we are not alone, nor unique, within the industry.  We had many conversations over the weekend that felt like talking with ourselves from 6 years in the past.  This industry is attracting more and more brilliant, inspired, and action oriented minds to help make our food system as awesome as we all know it can be.  This is so exciting to see because this industry needs more skilled people to make it flourish!

It is such an exciting time to be part of the aquaponics industry.  To all the people thinking about getting started with aquaponics, my recommendation is this: go to the conference.  Meet as many people as possible. Find those you resonate with and take action to get growing! All of us remember what it was like to be starting out, flooding bedrooms, basements and greenhouses. We love to share those stories, to help newcomers avoid the mistakes we made and see new generations of aquapioneers sprout!

To me, the value of the Aquaponics Association conference is all about these relationships.  It is the people in the room during the conference that are changing the world with aquaponics.  The people who will take it to the next level are in that room. You can meet them and even become one of them with enough persistence!

 

About the Author:

My name is Spencer Curry.  I am the CEO and cofounder of Trifecta Ecosystems, and in my spare time I am a Senior Advisor to the Aquaponics Association and have served in many different roles over the years.

Aquaponics in STEM Breakout Discussions

The Aquaponics Association’s Putting Up Shoots conference in September, 2018 featured breakout discussion sessions for Aquaponics in STEM Education and for other sub-fields of aquaponics. These sessions allowed all conference participants to give input and discuss steps we can take together to advance aquaponics in our respective areas.

By Kevin Savage

In September 2012, I attended my first Aquaponics Association conference in Denver, CO.  I was new to aquaponics, and new to attempting to use aquaponics as a model for teaching science and agriculture in a high school setting.  The conference was a bit overwhelming with technical presentations, conversations during breaks and at meals, and networking with aquaponics practitioners (many of whom are now close friends).  I distinctly recall, however, that I met only one or two other individuals who were doing aquaponics in a secondary school setting.

At the 2013 Tucson conference, the number of educators and professional who were working with school had increased significantly, and by the 2016 and 2017 conferences (Austin, TX and Portland, OR), educators had dedicated presentation tracks to share with others how they were using aquaponics in elementary, middle, and high school, as well as college and university settings, to teach a myriad of science, agriculture, engineering, and mathematics principles.

In September 2018, members and friends of the Aquaponics Association gathered in Hartford, Connecticut for the Association’s “Putting Up Shoots” conference.  The “Shoots” conference included a STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics) technical track each day for education-focused presentations.  Each day also include STEM-focused breakout sessions, where educators and those interested in adding aquaponics to a school or classroom had the opportunity to gather and discuss such topics as “How do I get my administration on board with aquaponics?”, “How do I incorporate aquaponics into my biology/chemistry/botany curriculum?”, and “Where do I find funding to cover the costs of starting aquaponics?”  Some questions were easily addressed, but many others remained open-ended or unanswered, reflecting both the challenges and the opportunities for educators with a passion for experiential learning through aquaponics.  The most exciting part of these breakout sessions was that over the three days of the conference, nearly 40 different individuals attended at least one of these sessions, and 25 individuals attended at least two of them!  The participation of members in aquaponics in education continues grow!

Significant outcomes of these breakout sessions included introductions and networking, creation of a STEM education email group, and a “handshake” agreement to work with the educators of the U.S. Aquaculture Society to develop a forum or outlet for educators to share ideas and lesson plans, and to have a community in which to ask questions or seek assistance.

STEM Education is a primary focus area for the 2018 and 2019 Board of Directors, with the goal of creating a STEM Education Working Group.  This working group will be composed of Association Members with a passion to see aquaponics education continue to grow, and a willingness to contribute to this growth.  More information on the creation of this working group will be sent out in the near future.

Kevin Savage teaches and grows at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy in Ohio, serves as Aquaponics Association Secretary, and leads the Association’s STEM initiative.

Photos from Putting Up Shoots

Aquaponics Can Revitalize Connecticut’s Economy

By Brian Filipowich, Eric Pedersen, and Spencer Curry

The loss of a solid manufacturing base has left Connecticut trapped with long-term, structural economic problems.

But there is an elegant solution: tap into the state’s technological pedigree, agricultural past, and unused infrastructure to manufacture something different – world-class produce and fish.

Companies like Trifecta Ecosystems in Meriden and Ideal Fish in Waterbury are pioneers of an entirely new industry: aquaponics, recirculating aquaculture, and controlled-environment growing.  Aquaponics is a method of growing fish and plants in a closed system in which nutrient-dense fish water provides nutrients for hydroponic systems that grow produce all year long.

Already, Trifecta Ecosystems in Meriden has a total capacity to feed 200 families their weekly veggies all year round, in addition to 600 lbs. of fish protein grown per year.  Trifecta also helps more than 20 schools and non-profit organizations from around the state grow food for themselves using aquaponics.

Ideal Fish has tapped into the Brass City’s robust industrial infrastructure that includes high-quality manufacturing space, electrical power, water, waste water treatment, and transportation infrastructure. From Cleveland to Detroit, aquaponic farms are springing up in old factories.

The most advanced aquaponic growers in the nation, like Superior Fresh of Wisconsin, are growing sushi-grade salmon and over ten thousand units of greens per day in multi-acre controlled-environment greenhouses.  These growers provide a vision for Connecticut’s future.

We can no longer rely on shipping our food thousands of miles. Mounting environmental challenges and the demand for local food will force us to grow with these new efficient methods.

And aside from the produce itself, there will be thousands of jobs in agriculture technology, equipment, and training.

Why doesn’t Connecticut become an Aquaponics Center of Excellence? It sits between New York City and Boston, the largest food market in the U.S. It has the untapped or underutilized physical infrastructure, academic resources, and manufacturing expertise.  With world-famous agricultural institutions like UConn Agriculture Extension and UConn’s new Hartford campus, could farming be the answer to Connecticut’s economic woes?

September 21-23, the national Aquaponics Association’s annual conference Putting Up Shoots will be at the Hartford Hilton. The world’s top aquaponics growers will be presenting their work and discussing the potential for aquaponics. This is a great opportunity for the state of Connecticut to invest in an entirely new industry. Click here for conference info: http://bit.ly/2NZ4WTV

Eric Pedersen, CEO
Ideal Fish, Waterbury, CT

Spencer Curry, CEO
Trifecta Ecosystems, Meriden, CT

Brian Filipowich, Chairman
Aquaponics Association, Washington, D.C.

Designing Aquaponic Systems for the Developing World

Speaker Spotlight: Phil Reasons, Aquasol International

Designing and operating an aquaponic system in Florida is not the same as in Togo, West Africa. Phil Reasons has spent years doing both. Internationally, Phil helps communities in Africa, Central America, Haiti, and elsewhere supplement their diets with aquaponics.

At this weekend’s Putting Up Shoots conference in Hartford, CT, Phil will be discussing how to design systems in challenging environments in the developing world.

Phil will also be leading a discussion session: “Cross-Cultural Partnerships in Aquaponics”.

We hope you can make it to the conference! Ticket info: http://bit.ly/2NZ4WTV

Vendor Spotlight: Skretting; the global leader in aquaculture feed

Skretting, the world’s largest producer of aquaculture feed, is one of the great companies joining us in the Putting Up Shoots Conference vendor showroom THIS WEEKEND in Hartford, CT.

Do you have a product or service you’d like displayed in front of hundreds of aquaponics-enthusiasts? We still have a few tables left. Check out our conference homepage for more info: http://bit.ly/2NZ4WTV

About Skretting: “Our mission is based on the challenge of feeding a global population that is forecast to reach 9.5 billion people by 2050. The fast growing world population, increased urbanisation, a growing middle class and changing diets will lead to a surge in demand for protein, especially in emerging markets. Our ambition is to contribute to meeting the rising food needs in a sustainable manner. We will do this by constantly seeking innovative ways to raise the efficiency and nutritional value of our products, the productivity of our activities and those of our customers, and to reduce the environmental impact of our value chains. Sustainability is in the nature of our business.”

Hope to see you at the conference!

Mr. Tilapia Goes to Washington

Did you know that Congress currently has aquaponics provisions on the chopping block?

The Farm Bill will soon be considered in Congress, it is passed only once every five years. Congress must act NOW to ensure the U.S. stays competitive in sustainable agriculture.

Negotiators are deciding within days what provisions to include in the final draft of the 2018 Farm Bill. The Senate Bill includes positive provisions for aquaponics, hydroponics, and other sustainable growing methods. The House’s version does not.

That’s why we just hand-delivered a copy of our Aquaponics Senate Farm Bill Fact Sheet along with our sign-on letter with over 300 aquaponic-signatures to every Member of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees.

YOU can help too! Now is a vital time to tell your Senators and Representative they should support aquaponics, hydroponics, and sustainable agriculture in the final draft.

Do you have 15 minutes to spare? Please take a few minutes to call or send a message!

 

Speaker Spotlight: Arvind Venkat

 

Arvind Venkat is Waterfarmers Canada’s Scientific Director overseeing the company’s technology, product and execution platform. He has been a noteworthy leader in the commercial Aquaponic space. Under his vision Waterfarmers have developed over half million square feet of commercial farming and continue to expand their reach. He has spent the last 5 years creating resilient design and operating procedures for large commercial farms for different climate and market environments. His contributions to nutrient stewardship, environmentally responsible design and farmer profitability modelling have been recognized as viable business formulas by investors and policy makers alike. Arvind works very closely with Murray Hallam of Practical Aquaponics and their newest project in the works is a walkthrough guide platform for new farmers for the first 6 months of operations. 

An Engineering and Management graduate from Kettering University, Michigan, Arvind started his career as an engineer at Bosch USA and quickly worked his way up to the Executive offices at National Aluminum at the age of 22. Arvind holds to his credit an MBA from MIT and 4 years of post graduate research at University of Toronto in the field of Renewable Energy. Outside the office, Arvind is a percussionist actively performing at top classical art venues around the world.  

Speaker Spotlight: Jose-Luis Isurza

ABSTRACT

Freshwater prawns have a high market value, short harvest cycle, and high market demand. Under the assumption that the waste of prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) does not produce enough nutrients to supply their vegetative counterparts Ocimum basilicum (Genovese Basil), the supposed nutrient deficiency was supplemented using worm castings mixed with water to create a vermicompost solution. This solution was added to the systems in the amounts of 1% and 3% based on the aquaponics system water volume. The observation and data collection on plant growth, prawn growth, and water quality were measured every two weeks, every week, and every day, respectively. After 5 weeks of observation, no significant difference in plant growth or prawn growth was observed in both treatments.

BIO 

Jose-Luis Izursa is a lecturer and advisor in the Environmental Science and Technology department at the University of Maryland. He completed a post-doctoral program with the University of Florida, focusing his research on quantifying energy balances of biofuel feedstock production systems and their effect on greenhouse gases production. Prior to that, Dr. Izursa was the Director of science and research at Fundación Natura Bolivia, where part of his work focused on climate smart agriculture and sustainable food production, designing and utilizing innovative social markets techniques as payment for ecosystem services. In cooperation with the Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University, he was engaged in developing social games to study local leadership and the voluntary provision of public goods in rural communities in Bolivia.

He also worked as a program coordinator for Conservation International and a consultant for the World Wildlife Fund in Washington DC.  He received his Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences; his M.Sc. in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland; his M.Sc. in Higher Education from the University Amazónica of Pando and has won a number of honors and awards including the Fulbright and the Russell E. Train Education for Nature Fellowships.

Sign up today to see Jose-Luis Isurza at our Putting Up Shoots Conference.

Speaker Spotlight; Todd Guerdat

Speaker Spotlight: Todd Guerdat
University of New Hampshire

Project OASIS: Optimizing Aquaponic Systems for Improved Sustainability

The new Agricultural Engineering research program at the University of New Hampshire has constructed three replicated greenhouses for farm-scale recirculating aquaponic research funded by the USDA and NH Sea Grant. This research is dedicated to developing optimized aquaponic systems, both coupled and decoupled, which are economically and environmentally sustainable. Our research focuses on water and waste treatment for improved nutrient utilization efficiency, the economics of integration, pest management, and food safety. With a multi-disciplinary team of researchers, we are researching multiple crops and fish species to address the needs of farmers, regulators, and customers alike.

We have developed a streamlined approach toward integrating hydroponic cropping systems with recirculating aquaculture and have been in development and operation at a large scale for almost two years, and we are continuing to grow. System layout and results to date will be presented.

Get your tickets today! https://aaasociation.wpengine.com/2018-conference/

Heart of Hartford Party Friday Night

 

 

At our annual Aquaponics Association Conference, we don’t just like to talk aquaponics, commercial growing, and sustainable agriculture – we like to have fun while doing it! Friday night at the upcoming Putting Up Shoots conference we’re having a Heart of Hartford party, where we’ll visit some of the best bars and restaurants smack dab in the heart of downtown Hartford!

Previous conferences have had some VERY fun parties.

       

You can find us at @thetaverndowntownhartford, @therussianlady, @blackeyedsallys, and more – all walking distance from the Hilton Hartford. Come meet fellow aquapioneers, grab a pint, and experience all this city has to offer!

Get your conference tix today! https://aaasociation.wpengine.com/2018-conference/

Speaker Spotlight: Tom Zimmerman

 

Plankton provide about two-thirds of the Earth’s oxygen, are the largest sequester of carbon and the baby food to practically every species of fish. In aquaponics, plankton increase dissolved oxygen, stabilize water quality and reduce pathogenic microbes by consuming nutrients and bacteria in the water. However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Huge plankton blooms, typically caused by too much nitrates, consume dissolved oxygen when they decompose which can result in massive fish kills. The key to a healthy aquaponics system is balancing many factors including pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, phosphates, biological oxygen demand and turbidity. In our research, we are developing novel microscopes to monitor the distribution, shape and behavior of plankton and use this data to model and predict the health of an ecosystem. Our objective is to use plankton as an environmental sensor, like a smoke detector, to alert scientists of disturbances in the ecosystem before they become disasters. Aquaponic systems provide a small, contained and controlled ecosystem for us to train and test our microscopes, algorithms and models. Once trained, an AI microscope may be used to continuously monitor the health of an aquaponic system.

 

 

Bio

Tom Zimmerman is a Research Staff Member and Master Inventor in the Cellular Engineering group of IBM’s Research Division. His 60 patents cover position tracking, user input devices, wireless communication, image and audio signal processing, biometrics and microscopy. His Data Glove invention established the field of Virtual Reality, selling over one million units.  His electric field Personal Area Network (PAN) invention sends data through the human body, exchanging electronic business cards with a handshake, and prevents air bags from injuring children in cars. His wireless sea turtle monitoring system predicts hatching and is installed in the US and Costa Rica. He received his B.S. in Humanities and Engineering and M.S. in Media Science from MIT.

Tom Zimmerman will be at this year’s Putting Up Shoots Conference 

Speaker Spotlight: Hendrik Monsees

Aquaponics is a promising approach for a sustainable intensification of food production and the number of commercial systems is increasing in Europe, the US and worldwide. Nevertheless, balancing nutrient concentrations and establishing optimal growth conditions for fish and plants is challenging, especially with demanding crops (e.g. tomatoes). In classical aquaponic systems hydroponic units are integrated in the water cycle of an aquaculture system. This can result in suboptimal growth conditions (e.g. pH). Decoupled aquaponic systems were developed to address these obstacles by separating the two production cycles. Aquaculture and hydroponic units are connected via a one-way valve and water is only transferred from the aquaculture unit to hydroponic units on demand, but not back. Thereby an individual management of both production units and the maintenance of optimal growth conditions in decoupled aquaponics are enabled, resulting in comparable yields compared to conventional production systems.

Bio

University of Bremen – Marine Biology

Diploma-thesis at Leibniz – Centre for Tropical Marine Research and Max-Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology        

Research assistant at Leibniz -Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) in Berlin within the field of aquaponics in the project ASTAF-PRO   

PhD student at IGB financed via Elsa-Neumann-scholarship: Overcoming major bottlenecks in aquaponics – A practical approach

Post-Doc at IGB within the projects INAPRO and CITYFOOD

Hendrik Monsees will be at our Putting Up Shoots Conference coming from Berlin, Germany.

Putting Up Shoots Programs!!

Please see the tentative programs for all three days of the Aquaponics Association’s 2018 Conference, Putting Up Shoots:

Putting Up Shoots Tentative Friday Program

Putting Up Shoots Tentative Saturday Program

Putting Up Shoots Tentative Sunday Program

The conference is jam-packed with aquaponics goodies:

-FOUR site tours;
-SIX expert panel discussions;
-THIRTY-SIX presentations from the world’s top experts
-TWO hands-on build demonstrations;
-TWELVE moderated group breakout discussions;
-ONE special aquaponics banquet and presentation;
-TWO networking happy hours; and
-The International Aquaponics Vendor Showroom!

WOW, hope you can make it! Check out the conference homepage for ticket info: https://aaasociation.wpengine.com/2018-conference/

 

Vendor Showroom at Aquaponics Conference

Do you have a cutting-edge product or service that you’d like to share with aquaponic growers from around the world?

Do you want your business info shared with thousands of Association followers?

Then you’re in luck! We still have vendor tables left in the vendor showroom at the upcoming Putting Up Shoots Conference. All vendor tables include 1 full conference ticket, a “vendor spotlight” media post, recognition as a contributor in the conference program, and one year of Association Membership.

Vendor tables start at $700

Here’s the conference homepage where you’ll find information about vendor tables: http://bit.ly/2NZ4WTV

We hope to see you soon!

Speaker Spotlight: Officer Michael McLeon

“The Michael Unit” started with a bathtub and solo cups and through trial and error has developed low-cost commercial aquaponic systems from used and recycled parts. From the development of this system the Michael Unit Field Force went on to win State Grand Champion in the “Herb Behind Bars” competition as well as developed community outreach programs that has helped over 800 families in need and wish to share the experiences and knowledge they have gained through developing an aquaponics program in a correctional environment.

The long term goal is to grow many salads every week within the walls of prisons across the US with aquaponics. Just another example of how aquaponics is transforming our food economy!

Get your Putting Up Shoots tickets today! — http://bit.ly/2NZ4WTV

The Ripple Effect

The Ripple Effect: How Aquaponic Conferences Grow Community and Remove Barriers

By Kate Wildrick

My name is Kate Wildrick, Co-Founder / Paradigm Shifter of Ingenuity Innovation Center.  For those of you who were able to attend the 2017 Putting Down Roots Conference in Portland, Oregon, I served as one of the conference co-chairs.  Since then, I have had an active role as a strategic advisor to the Aquaponics Association. My intention in writing this article is to share my personal, first hand experience of how attending an aquaponic conference can really serve as a powerful catalyst for building community, knowledge and resources.  This is my story.

My business focuses on creating sustainable solutions and sharing them using an open-source platform.  Aquaponics is one of the many things that we do. In 2012, my husband and I struggled our way through a mountain of (dis)information on the internet to find the best way to build an aquaponics system.  After moving onto 20 acres of land in St. Helens, Oregon on a lease to buy option (this is important later in my story), we set up a 1,500 square foot greenhouse and began constructing our system based off of Murray Hallam’s CHOP2 (Constant Height, One Pump) System.  At the time, I was working at a food manufacturing facility. With access to lots of food grade containers (also known as Intermittent Bulk Containers or IBC’s), we created a system working with resources we could repurpose and “upcycle.” This also included building with a lot of reclaimed wood.

As we built our system row by row, our friends told others.  Before we knew it, we were hosting regular tours and helping people get introduced into how aquaponics works.  We made every mistake in the book and shared what we learned to help others save money, time and frustration. Many encouraged us to go into designing and building systems and growing commercially, but my husband and I knew that we lacked the knowledge.  Nonetheless, we kept at it. We made new mistakes, met new people and kept expanding.

In 2014, we learned that Murray Hallam would be speaking at the Aquaponics Association’s Conference in San Jose, CA.  Too broke to attend, another colleague suggested we reach out to him and invite him to speak at our center. He made an introduction, and before I knew it, I was talking to Murray on Skype.  He accepted our invitation. With less than 30 days to promote the event, we somehow managed to pull it off. We sold every last seat!

2017 Putting Down Roots Conference Speakers, Portland, OR

Given the huge success, Murray decided that he wanted to return each year (which he did) to do his four day master class at our center.  The wealth of knowledge and connections made at these events were simply phenomenal. We learned even more about system design, commercial production, pest management and nutrient deficiencies.  Not only were we able to learn from Murray, but we connected with others who had small and large farms all over the world. We were able to discover the challenges and opportunities they were personally facing.  It was comforting to know that we were not alone in pioneering this emerging green industry.

In 2016, I attended the Austin, TX Aquaponics Association’s Conference as a speaker.  I had submitted a proposal to share what we had learned first hand about leveraging aquaponics as a community builder.  This was the first conference where I was able to meet many of my national colleagues. It was so exciting to meet each of these people who we had been following on YouTube and social media.  I returned home with many new connections and a bigger perspective on what was happening on the national and global fronts with the industry. Best of all, I was starting to connect the dots on how to position what we were doing to meet the growing demand of people needing access to living examples of various aquaponic designs and business and community models.

Brian Filipowich and Kate Wildrick, Co-Chairs of the 2017 Putting Down Roots conference take a moment to celebrate the turnout for the event.

In summer 2017, Brian Filipowich (now current Chairman of the Aquaponics Association), reached out to me to get my thoughts on hosting the Association’s annual conference in Portland.  We had met at the Austin conference, and we shared a lot of passion for cultivating the aquaponics community. I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to bring some of the cutting edge leaders and pioneers to the Pacific Northwest, as I knew many in my network would benefit and see how this is a real industry and it is not a fad.  Knowing I had to step up my whole event planning game to the next level, Brian and I set off to find a venue and get promoting.

This event was a huge blessing for me.  At the time, my family and I had been dealing with a devastating blow to our business and life.  We chose to leave the beautiful land we were on when we found out our friend and investor had no interest in honoring our initial agreements.  (Serving for 5 years on our advisory group, she watched us try to secure the land. The high risk venture of “aquaponics” and a business model that had never been done before left us with few conventional options.)  Having no desire to be bound by values that did not align to ours, we uprooted our whole life in 45 days and moved into a one bedroom basement at our friends’ house. Here my husband, mother-in-law, two year old son and I regrouped and wondered what new things would come our way.

The 2017 Putting Down Roots Conference became my sole focus.  With a limited amount of time to put together such major event, I knew it was going to take a lot to pull this off.  As the schedule came together, I began to revisit connections who had come through our center along with an Aquaponic Meetup Group we run to promote the conference.  On the state level, we belonged to an aquaculture task force that was established to bring together public and private organizations to strengthen and develop the aquaculture industry in Oregon.  We served as the voice for aquaponic industry. Often not taken seriously, we knew that this was our opportunity to show the State of Oregon what is possible. So, we gifted the Oregon Aquaculture Association a table at the conference to hear the speakers and connect with attendees.

When the conference happened, I was so excited.  Even though our business and home had been uprooted,
what was clear was that we had very strong roots in our community that aquaponics had helped us create.  During the event, we were able to bring attendees on a tour of an aquaponic R&D center that we were helping build for a new business venture,
Wind River Produce, in the Columbia River Gorge.  As with any build, we got to learn how to make things better.  Next, we went on a second tour to a food innovation center, The Redd, that serves as a business incubator and explored Live Local Organic, an urban application of an indoor aquaponic facility.  The owner, Joel Kelly, had come through our center many years ago hoping to find more information on how to do commercial aquaponics.  The tours were helped tell a story of how aquaponics could bridge the urban and rural divide, which has been a major discussion in the agriculture industry on a local and national level.

Arvind and Gayathri Venkat of Waterfarmers reconnect with Murray Hallam and Nick Savidov, Ph.D.

We also heard the heartbreaking stories of other aquapreunuers that had faced similar challenges that we had encountered.  We were not alone in dealing with the reality that there were a lack of resources to help grow this industry. It dawned on me that by telling our story,  that we could give permission for others to share theirs. Together, our voices could be heard.

After the conference, we took a short break only to find that we had ignited something big.  Beyond seeing an increase in our consultation services, new doors began opening up. The Oregon Food Bank wanted to collaborate and bring aquaponics to their headquarter location.  Discussions around aquaponic training for veterans and people of color began, and funds were sourced to build systems.  Other non-profits and for-profits sought to collaborate and see how they could get more aquaponic farms and community applications going on a local level.  The conversation had shifted. Instead of “making the case” for why aquaponics could solve a lot of issues, people and organizations began were now asking what they could do to help grow the industry.

Based on this feedback, we began focusing our efforts on developing pathways that could funnel this energy in a way that would be beneficial for all.  Given that we had nothing to lose and everything to gain, we decided to develop an aquaponic co-op venture that would help establish standards, best practices and workforce training to grow the industry.  Working with Murray Hallam and his student Arvind Venkat from Waterfarmers, we decided to expand the Wind River Produce model to serve as a way to grow and develop farms and farmers in the Pacific Northwest while alleviating the barriers that many have had to go through.  Working off of a solid and replicable commercial farm model and training curriculum, we then could adapt these processes and designs to integrate with the local food system and culture.

One unexpected, yet incredible surprise of hosting the Putting Down Roots Conference was the response that we received from Clint Bentz, the President of the Oregon Aquaculture Association.  After attending the conference, he was absolutely ecstatic as to what aquaponics could do for the State of Oregon. After meeting and relaying on what he learned to several of the task force members, the association asked me if I would be willing to help them put on an Oregon version of the aquaponics conference.  Working with another co-chair and aquaponic farmer, Michael Hasey of Oregon’s largest aquaponic farm, The Farming Fish, we set out on another short deadline to showcase what was happening with aquaponics on a local level.  The conference took place the weekend of June 23rd, 2018, and drew more than 70 people, including Oregon’s 1st District State Representative, David Brock Smith, who extended his support for growing the state’s aquaculture and aquaponics industries.  Here, the pioneers of the Oregon aquaponic movement shared their organization’s vision, challenges and desire to meet the growing demand for high quality, organic produce.

Reflecting on this conference, I still get emotional.  With the exception of a few speakers, I knew most everyone’s story, challenges, and triumphs.  I was in a very unique position as the Master of Ceremonies to help ask the questions and highlight the opportunities for collaboration to shift the industry on a local level.  Like my own experience at the Austin conference, many of these speakers had not ever met one another before or knew of their projects or farms. Together we told the collective story through our own stories.  We shared how we had moved the mark and explained what was needed to keep going. What happened at the end of the conference then took my breath away. People who attended began offering up resources. Business planning, CPA services, land, supplies, financial assistance were just a few I can recall.  I remember looking at the speakers who were still there and smiling. We had brought our local community together to help remove the barriers. We had even managed to raise another $1,000 to help the STEM students who presented at the Putting Down Roots conference fund their program in our local schools.

When you participate in an aquaponic conference, you give energy and support for those  who are the front lines. Your presence demonstrates that this is a growing movement, and one  that is not going away. You may never know how your interactions impact others and inspire innovation.  You may not realize how your words can encourage new results. My hope is that by sharing my story you can see how the ripples can come back in very unexpected and awe inspiring ways.  It is through these events that I find my inspiration to keep going.

Become Part of the City that Feeds Itself

By joining us for the 2018 Putting Up Shoots Aquaponics Association Conference, you’re becoming a part of something much bigger than aquaponics. In Hartford, CT, we’re making an impact on the city’s food ecosystem by becoming a part of the City that Feeds Itself™.

The City that Feeds Itself is the leading mission of Connecticut’s own Trifecta Ecosystems, our local conference partner. Trifecta is creating incentives for communities to grow their own food, while raising awareness about sustainable farming through education, workshops, and city projects.

With this year’s conference (our biggest yet!), we’re not only raising awareness about one of the most sustainable methods of farming, we’re also supporting local education, farmers in and around Hartford, the growth of food for local communities, and so much more. Learn more about the CFI here: https://bit.ly/2BWGjDR

Become a part of something bigger; register for “Putting Up Shoots” today! http://bit.ly/2NZ4WTV

Speaker Spotlight: Peter Hill

Do you struggle to get delicious fresh food for your family every night? Would you like your children to be involved in farming and food preparation for meals? Are you worried about eating store produce because you know how some big farms might operate? Do you like great tasting food? Would you like to sell your extra at the farmers market, or share with your neighbors?

Is your church or community organization fighting food scarcity and quality? Would workforce training in computer design, carpentry, project management, farm operation, marketing, and distribution be beneficial in your community?

Interested in being a part of the 30% growth in organic food demand over the next ten years? No pesticides, no rolling stock, or wastewater permits. Low operating cost. Small footprint. Big payout!

We start with your concerns and production goals, add location, schedule, and a budget estimate. That gets us talking and arriving at the best solution for you. You get the education at the right time.

Peter Hill is an engineer that solves problems, creates digital solutions and teaches the information to others. My experience comes from life and the farm. My tools are Sketchup, Xcel, PowerPoint, paper, pencil and a ruler.

My solutions are in freshwater shrimp farming with a patent (aquaculture), saltwater farming (mariculture), industrial equipment human interface (process), IOT design (mechatronics) and aquaponic farm design. I currently teach at Anne Arundel Community College, Maryland. Previously, an assistant professor of physics, Illinois, high school biology teacher, Virginia, and engineer.

Let’s start your Aquaponic Farm design! Contact: Grow@SustainableDesign.Farm

Speaker Spotlight: Dr. Baker and Dr. Beecher

Speaker Spotlight – Dr. Kimberly Baker & Dr. Lance Beecher, Clemson University Cooperative Extension

“Promoting Spinach Consumption and Sustainable Agricultural Practices in South Carolina Schools using Aquaponics”

(Aquaponics Research & Food Safety Track)

Kimberly Baker:

Dr. Kimberly A. Baker completed her Ph.D. in Food Technology from Clemson University in 2016.  She is a registered and licensed dietitian and a trained chef.  Dr. Baker serves as the Food Systems and Safety Program Team Leader and State Consumer Food Safety Program Coordinator with the Clemson University Cooperative Extension.  Dr. Baker is also a certified Seafood HACCP Trainer and Instructor (Association of Food and Drug Officials), certified Food Safety Preventive Control for Human Food and Animal Food Lead Instructor (Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance), certified Produce Safety Alliance Lead Trainer (Produce Safety Alliance) and ServSafe® Instructor/Proctor (National Restaurant Association).  

Lance Beecher:

Dr. Lance Beecher serves as an Extension Associate and State Specialist with the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service. He received a Ph.D. from Clemson University in Environmental Toxicology and a M.S. and B.S. from Louisiana State University in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology. His background includes extensive work in aquaculture and aquaponics projects for over 25 years. His area includes recirculating system filtration and water quality management. Presently he is managing a 2500 gallon aquaponics system evaluating nutrient dynamics, sterilization techniques and aquaponics food safety protocols.  

 

This session will discuss a project conducted by Clemson Cooperative Extension about promoting spinach consumption and sustainable agricultural practices in South Carolina schools using Aquaponics.  The goals of this project were: 1) to increase nutritional knowledge and consumption of leafy green vegetables; 2) to enhance good handling practices and food safety during production and preparation; and 3) to promote South Carolina sustainable production practices, focusing on Aquaponics.  Two classes from two high schools participated in the project in which the class teacher was taught how to run an aquaponics system; and teach the students pre-determined learning content.  Lesson topics included: safe food handling, food safety of produce and nutrition and cooking of spinach.  Students and teachers were given a pre-test and post-test in order to evaluate knowledge gained.  This session will discuss how the project was implemented, project results and how this can be incorporated into other schools nationwide.  

Make sure you register for the conference today. Time is running out

Aquaponics in STEM Education

By Julie Flegal-Smallwood

According to Economic Modeling Specialists International (2017), STEM jobs will grow 13% between 2017 and 2027, while other career options will grow 9%. In addition, STEM jobs have a median salary of almost twice that of non-STEM jobs. The majority of STEM careers require at least some college, and most students, regardless of level, consider math, science, and other similar classes to be the hardest and most challenging. At the college level, this is often the reason many of my students are ready to graduate but still need to fulfill a college-level mathematics requirement. This is particularly true for low-income, minority, underprepared, or first generation college students.

 Aquaponics continues to be a content area which easily blends many aspects of STEM, and can turn “I can’t” attitudes into “I can”.  It allows students to be engaged in a real-world, important application of STEM. Redlands Community College in El Reno, OK has a robust Aquaponics program associated with two degrees  and a certificate program related to Agricultural Sustainability.

 Last year, I had a non-traditional (in almost every sense of the word) student who sat on the back row the first night of class, and looked as if he might bolt out the door at our break time. As a 36-year old Marine veteran, who also happened to be Native American and a first generation college student, Jason was dubious. He took the class only because he needed a 4-hour class to round out his schedule, and didn’t think it would have much “science and math stuff”.

With each class period he became more engaged, and by midterm asked if he could design a system for his home as his research requirement. Late at night, I would get text messages with pictures of the welding he had been doing or some tanks he had found to use in his homegrown approach. Our schedule included Saturday lab days and field trips, and he asked to bring his wife and children so they

 could learn more about his new passion. By the time we reached fish dissection, his 9-year old daughter was fixture in the class as well.

A year later, his life is much different. Instead of wondering if he could complete community college, he has upped his goals and wants to get a graduate degree in Microbiology or Chemistry, and hopes to work in the Aquaponics industry. In the meantime, he has three systems at home, is working on another one, and is a permanent volunteer in our greenhouse. He credits aquaponics at helping him break through significant PTSD issues, giving him a goal, and passing on some excitement to his five children, three of whom are girls.

 

We  have a STEM Track at this year conference. Check out our STEM Education Conference Discount.

Aquaponics Across Connecticut!

The Putting Up Shoots Conference features tours of four sites across the great state of Connecticut.

Guests will get a first-hand look at all angles of aquaponics: commercial, food safety, community, research, and STEM education.

Tours will inform afternoon sessions and team-building. We will identify ways that Connecticut growers are breaking down barriers and growing more with aquaponics, and how we can all apply these lessons.

Check out the Putting Up Shoots Conference Homepage for ticket info.

Also check out the draft Putting Up Shoots Schedule.

Email community@aquaponicsassociation.org for questions.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

Yemi Amu: Aquaponics Design for Small-Scale Production

From city lots to classrooms, aquaponics is a good fit for any urban space, no matter the size. Yemi Amu, a New York City aquaponics professional with over a decade of farming experience, shares in this talk practical design considerations and best practices for creating aquaponics systems in unconventional spaces. Yemi’s guidelines for design, building, materials and plant selection will benefit those interested in growing a diverse selection of fish and crops in small spaces or on a limited budget.

In this talk participants will learn:

  • How to design for your space
  • Designing systems for a purpose (such as production or education)
  • Designing aquaponics systems for scalability
  • Designing systems for ease of use and functionality
  • Selecting materials for a budget
  • Appropriate fish and vegetable choices

About Oko Farms

Founded in 2012, Oko Farms is an aquaponics education, production and design/build company in Brooklyn. Oko Farms operates New York City’s largest and only outdoor aquaponics farm located in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Every year, hundreds of visitors, ranging from public school students to government officials, learn about sustainability and ecosystems by visiting our unique and diverse aquaponics farm.

Our 2,500 square foot aquaponics system houses a variety of freshwater animals, including channel catfish, tilapia, crawfish, freshwater prawns, gold fish, koi, and bluegill. Plants cultivated include rice, lemongrass, mint, okra, peppers, spinach, beans, leeks, chamomile, tomatoes, eggplant, and many more. Our system also features a number of aquaponic farming methods, including deep water culture, ebb and flow, and nutrient film technique.

About Yemi Amu

Yemi Amu is the founder and farm manager of Oko Farms. She directs all of Oko Farms’ programs including education, design/build projects and community related activities. For the past decade, she has facilitated the creation and maintenance of over 20 edible spaces throughout NYC; created and implemented various culinary, nutrition and gardening programs for both youth and adults; and promotes aquaponics as a tool for environmental awareness and stewardship. Yemi has a M.A. in Health and Nutrition Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She was awarded Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center, Rising Star in NYC Food Policy (2016).

The Amazing Microbiology of Aquaponics

As our nation prepares to pass the once-every-5-year Farm Bill, let’s remember that aquaponic systems have been shown to have the same – if not more – quantity and diversity of rich microbiology as organic soil.

Check out our Aquaponics Food Web Report: Aquaponics food web aug 2018

Whether as a consumer, grower, policy-maker, or business owner, we all make decisions that affect
where and how our food is produced.

As we shape our new food system, one critical consideration is whether we retain access to high quality
fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly those grown sustainably. We must assess whether new growing methods like aquaponics can deliver fruits and vegetables grown from seed with the same symbiotic biological processes used by plants since the dawn of time.

Our report shows that aquaponic systems feature a vibrant, thriving community of happy little micro-critters!

 

 

People, Planet, and Profit – Tawnya Sawyer Speaker Spotlight

Tawnya Sawyer from the Aquaponic Source and Colorado Aquaponics will be at the upcoming Putting Up Shoots conference in Hartford, September 21-23.

Tawnya will host multiple discussions in the Commercial Aquaponics Learning Track. Here’ the first:

People, Planet, Profit – Aquaponics’ Triple Bottom Line

All savvy businesses leaders these days are focused on the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. Aquaponics is one of those premier “green-technologies” that has it all. Aquaponics is about feeding people nutritious food, providing job skills, and greater self reliance. It’s about the planet by reducing waste, and natural resource consumption, while mimicking a natural ecosystem. And if done correctly, aquaponics can also be a profitable endeavor if that is your goal. This session will create an open forum to discuss various different aquaponic projects here and around the world which have achieved the triple bottom line and how others can use those models to build their own aquaponic venture.

Tawnya’s community forum engages thousands of home hobbyist, schools and farmers all over the world. We will share their success stories as well as their toughest tragedies in an attempt to ensure that your aquaponics system will flourish. The more you know, the more you grow.

Get your tix today!

 

You Built It – Now What!?

Tawnya Sawyer from the Aquaponic Source and Colorado Aquaponics will be at the upcoming Putting Up Shoots conference in Hartford, September 21-23.

There is so much excitement around designing and building an aquaponic system. But, once you have it all built, now what? From cycling to harvesting and everything in between, the system depends on you. Tawnya’s session will discuss the most important aspects of managing and optimizing your aquaponic system, from day to day operations, preventative practices and avoiding common mistakes.

Topics include:

  • Cycling and bacteria management;
  • Source water and water quality;
  • Solids management and mineralization;
  • Keeping your fish healthy and happy;
  • Selecting and growing abundant crops; and
  • Pest prevention and recovery.

Get your Putting Up Shoots Tickets today!

Check out Tawnya’s other discussion: People, Planet, Profit – Aquaponic’s Triple Bottom Line

STEM & Community Scholarship Drive

This year, just as every year, the Association Board is deluged with requests from amazing growers that would love to attend the annual conference but don’t have the financial means.

But we need all growers represented to break down barriers and grow more of our food with aquaponics. These growers are on the front lines, often making a difference with aquaponics in the most difficult circumstances.

Therefore, we are seeking funders to sponsor an even more affordable set of tickets for STEM and Community growers.

If you or someone you know are willing to sponsor tickets for teachers, students, or non-profit growers, head here for more information: STEM & Community Scholarship Drive.

Speaker Spotlight: Chris Williams, Community Aquaponics Track

 

“Opportunities and Limitations in Sustaining Community-Driven Aquaponics Operations”

Chris completed his Master of Science in Environment and Natural Resources Management at the University of Iceland in 2017.  His thesis, entitled “A Viability Assessment of Commercial Aquaponics Systems in Iceland”, was completed under Icelandic aquaponics professors and researchers Ragnheidur Thorarinsdottir and Magnus Thor Torfason.  Chris’ experience includes both aquaponics and hydroponics, as well as system automation using raspberry pi technology.  Chris presented portions of his work at a 2017 COST conference, hosted by the Europeanframework supporting trans-national cooperation among researchers, engineers and scholars across Europe.

Chris is from Columbus, OH. He received his undergraduate degree in 2010.  Since 2012 he has been working with local startups and small-scale operations designing and fabricating aquaponic, hydroponic, and aeroponic systems. Chris had spent 2013-2015 teaching English in China at Hainan University. He has successfully completed aquaponics training through the European COST Scientific Network and has aquaponics research manuscripts under peer-review for publication. Currently, Chris is working freelance for consultation with regards to aquaponics production.

If you want to see and speak to Chris make sure you
complete your registration for the conference today!

300 Aquaponic Signatures to Congress

 

Read the Aquaponics 2018 Farm Bill Letter Here

The Aquaponics Association today published a letter asking Congress to support aquaponics and other sustainable growing methods in the 2018 Farm Bill.

The Senate draft of the Farm Bill includes provisions that benefit aquaponic growers that are not included in the House version. (Read the Aquaponics Senate Farm Bill Fact Sheet).

The two chambers must reconcile the two versions into a final draft.

Over 300 aquaponic growers signed the letter asking the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to ensure that the final bill includes the Senate’s provisions for aquaponics.

 

Speaker Spotlight: Angela TenBroeck on Food Safety

Food Safety

You don’t need to look farther than CNN to realize that whether you grow food in your backyard for your family or you are a commercial grower, food safety is of utmost importance. This year at the Aquaponics Association Conference, Angela TenBroeck will deliver two dynamic, engaging and revealing presentations on:

  1. Commercial Aquaponics Food Safety: How can growers best insure the safety of the food they provide to their consumers. Learn how to create and implement a food safety program across all levels of your business from the material you use to start your seeds to the methods with which you deliver the produce to your customer. Angela will also discuss the legal food safety standards that commercial growers must comply with.
  2. Community Aquaponics Food Safety: Learn how to work towards making sure the products you grow and sell are safe. Learn simple, straight-forward practices to improve food safety in your local community-scale aquaponic systems.

 

Background

Angela TenBroeck has been a serial entrepreneur for over 30 years – with extensive experience in both the public and private sector. A fourth-generation farmer, Angela  and her family have been hydroponic farmers in North Florida since the 1970s. Angela is also a professional educator who has logged more than fifteen years in middle and high school education and administration, with emphasis in STEM and health curricula. In her time as an educator, Angela managed a $2 million Magnet Schools Assistance Program federal grant.

In 2013, her passion for sustainability and community outreach led Angela on a journey to launch the Center for Sustainable Agricultural Excellence and Conservation, a non-profit with a goal to change the lives of local farmers by offering a model for modern and sustainable farming practice. Given her background, she is an accomplished public speaker (e.g., Tedx 2014) with subject matter expertise in food safety, water and soil conservation techniques, STEM Health/Medicine education, and advanced methods of sustainable agriculture

Leveraging her experience in developing and operating the first commercial aquaponics facility in the world to obtain Safe Quality Food Level 3 certification, Angela  left day-to-day farm operations at Traders Hill Farm in early 2017 to change the hunger landscape. Angela has managed and advised on agricultural products across the United States and the Caribbean. Angela  runs Aqua Hortus, a company leading the way in services to develop and operate controlled-environment facilities to grow the highest quality and safest produce year-round, regardless of climate.

Another one of her current projects, Foodery Farms, changes the way brownfields are used in communities with food insecurities. The Pura Farms concept cycles clean water between farmed fish and vegetables, while utilizing solar energy. The use of elaborate biosecurity measures keeps pests out of the greenhouse, allowing Pura Farms produce to be “Beyond Organic,” with no need for chemicals or pesticides of any sort.

As the CEO and co-founder of Foodery Farms, Angela TenBroeck is working in conjunction with Pura Farms to launch aquaponic farms, with proprietary processes she has developed, throughout the United States and beyond. Pura Farms’ mission is to feed our communities with healthy, delicious and nutritious foods, eliminate food safety issues, and educate our future on the importance of protecting planet earth.

If you want to see and speak to Angela make sure you
complete your registration for the conference today!

 

CEU Credits for Putting Up Shoots

Redlands Community College in El Reno, OK is pleased to partner with the Aquaponics Association to award continuing education credit for Putting Up Shoots conference attendance. Educators and other professionals who would like CEUs for all or part of the conference can complete an on-site request form indicating the sessions attended. Upon submission, attendees will be mailed a certificate designating the appropriate number of CEUs. In addition, this continuing education credit will be formally transcripted at Redlands Community College. Questions regarding continuing education credit can be directed to Conference Vice-Chair Julie Flegal-Smallwood (julie.flegalsmallwood@redlandscc.edu).