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

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; 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/

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

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!

 

 

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.