Speaker Spotlight: Rob Torcellini, Bigelow Brook Farm

(Photo Credit: Douglas Healey for The New York Times)

Rob Torcellini is hosting a stop on the Husky-Ponics Tour and moderating an “Ask the Experts” panel discussion

By Kevin Savage

Mention the name “Rob Torcellini” or “Bigelow Brook Farm” in a gathering of aquapons, and ask folks what they think of first.  The comments are varied, and reflect Rob’s involvement and engagement in aquaponics over the past decade, and in the Aquaponics Association since its inception.  In no particular order, Rob is known as:

  • One of only a handful of members to be active in the Association since the first conference in Orlando in September 2011;
  • The guy who designed his own geodesic dome greenhouse using Russian CAD software, and then fabricated nearly all of his own structural pieces and built the greenhouse himself;
  • The guy who designed and built his own rocket mass heater to provide heat to his geodesic dome greenhouse;
  • The guy who designed, and used 3-D printing technology to “print” a bell siphon, and then demonstrated the siphon to the attendees at the 2017 “Putting Down Roots” conference last November in Portland, Oregon;
  • The producer of a myriad of YouTube videos (nearly 240!) documenting just about every conceivable thing that there is to document related to raising fish and growing plants using aquaponics;
  • One of the friendliest and most personable members of the aquaponics community.

In addition to being an aquaponics grower, Rob also designs, manufactures, and distributes products for the aquaponics industry.  Over the past decade, Rob has opened Bigelow Brook Farm for an ongoing virtual farm tour, and has shared his experiences with aquaponics, including all of the challenges that come with being an aquaponics grower in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6A.  Rob’s latest project at Bigelow Brook Farm is construction of a new large greenhouse (and yes, he’s building it himself) to contain a new aquaponic production system.  As is Rob’s approach to any new project, he has been video-documenting just about every step of the process, from site preparation to installation of the supporting hoops to floor placement & leveling to covering the hoops to enclose the structure.  His videos provide his technical basis and reasoning behind many of his decisions along the way; mixed in are personal anecdotes that include successes, as well as the occasional item that didn’t turn out quite like Rob wanted or expected.

Those attending the Putting Up Shoots 2018 Aquaponics Association Conference in Hartford, and participating in the conference’s Husky-Ponics Friday Tour program will have the opportunity to meet Rob, and to see first-hand all of the features that make up Bigelow Brook Farm, including the now-famous geodesic dome greenhouse, as well as the new larger greenhouse and its new aquaponics system.