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

Putting Out Fruits only two months away!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We hope to see you there!

Brian Filipowich, Chairman
Aquaponics Association

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brian Filipowich, Chairman
Aquaponics Association

 

Bad Certification News from Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re all in this together!

Brian Filipowich, Chairman
Aquaponics Association

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the full Mac interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tawnya Sawyer
Board Member & Conference Planner

Aquaponics Association

 

Conference Theme Announcement: Putting Out Fruits

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

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

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

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

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

–    Integrated pest management

–    Nutrient deficiencies and nutrient supplementation

–    STEM curriculum and classroom aquaponics

–    Growing cannabis in controlled environments

–    Food safety

–    Organic certification

–    International case studies

–    “Green” solution applications

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

–    Post-secondary aquaponics research

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

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

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

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

We hope to see you in Kentucky!

Kate Wildrick
Senior Advisor & Conference Planner
Aquaponics Association