Chat with Food Safety Trainer Juli Ogden

In this video, Aquaponics Association Senior Adviser Kate Wildrick and Food Safety Trainer Juli Ogden discuss food safety on the farm, and Juli’s upcoming pre-conference seminar “GLOBAL G.A.P. Made Simple”.

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

It’s great to hear Juli’s inspirational message about aquaponic farmers overcoming their food safety hurdles without the headaches! Check out the video, above. And if you plan on coming to the Putting Out Fruits Conference, consider the food safety certification seminar:

Grow Your Farm: Global G.A.P. Pre Conference Event

Conference Program!

The Aquaponics Association 2019 Board of Governors is proud to present the tentative program for the September 20-22 Putting Out Fruits Conference:

You can buy your tickets at the Putting Out Fruits homepage.

We hope you can make it,
Tawnya Sawyer, Conference Chair
Aquaponics Association

STEM Discount Tickets are Going Fast!

Carlin from Hemphill Highschool just got a STEM & Community Discount Ticket for the Putting Out Fruits Conference this September 20-22 at Kentucky State University. Learn about our STEM and Community Discount!

Aquaponics at Hemphill Highschool:
During the 2018-2019 school year, the School constructed phase I of the aquaponics lab. In 2019-2020, the School will complete phase II of the lab. This lab will be use to teach grades 1-12 as well cooperative teaching with the Agriculture Extension Agent. Other government agencies will participate with the Ag class to promote economic development. Check out their current setup, pictured above.

 

Global Aquaponic Practitioners Survey

A message from CITYFOOD at the University of Washington:

Hello Aquaponic Practitioners and Experts, help us fill in the GAPS by September 1st!

Please help us support the field of aquaponics by contributing to the Global Aquaponic Practitioners Survey

The CITYFOOD University of Washington team needs your help to empower this amazing field in producing sustainable healthy food! We are conducting an online survey of global aquaponic practitioners. Our work connects practitioners, researchers, and specialists to co-create the future of aquaponics and a vision of its connection with cities. Your support will help document production scale systems and you’ll receive an exclusive report for participating. This is a great opportunity to support to research that benefits and grows the aquaponics field.

The online survey takes only 15-20 minute to complete! All responses are confidential and cannot be traced back to an individual participant. However, together they will help paint a picture of the field’s success. We are looking forward to collaborating with you in the future to help support the aquaponic industry together!

CITYFOOD is an international, interdisciplinary project of collaborating aquaculture specialists, architects, and urban planners jointly supported by the US National Science Foundation and the EU Sustainable Urbanisation Global Initiative. We see aquaponics as a promising solution addressing the food, water, and energy challenges. If you would like to learn more about our project, please reach out to us at cityfood@uw.edu

UN: World Food Supply at Risk

A new U.N. Report states that the world’s food supply is at risk from climate change, and we need to change the way we produce our food.

“The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at ‘unprecedented rates,’ a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself.” (NYT)

“Scientists say that we must immediately change the way we manage land, produce food and eat less meat in order to halt the climate crisis.” (CNN)

Read the Report Summary

The Report points to the need for more efficient, sustainable growing methods like aquaponics, hydroponics, vertical growing, composting, and controlled-environment agriculture.

Brian Filipowich, Chairman
Aquaponics Association

 

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

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

Aquaponics in Prisons (2/3) — Rehabilitating Offenders

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. In this post, we discuss how aquaponics is rehabilitating offenders in the prison population.

In one school of thought, incarceration is punishment for wrongs committed. But another perspective is that incarceration is an opportunity for inmates to rehabilitate themselves so they can productively and peacefully re-enter society. Aquaponics is proving to be a valuable tool in rehabilitating inmates.

Aquaponics gives offenders a challenging, productive way to use their time. And, very importantly, it equips inmates with a productive skill to use upon release.

Mac notes that aquaponics provides skills in agriculture, construction, nutrition, landscaping, and water management. These are skills that are extremely valuable as the growing organic / local movement progresses. These are skills that will give inmates a better chance at securing jobs AND at being able to supply healthy food for themselves.

In addition to skill-development, aquaponics is good for inmates physical and mental health. By learning aquaponics and growing plants from seed to harvest, inmates develop a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

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

Stay tuned for our third and final key takeaway from our interview with Mac.

Aquaponics in Prisons (1/3) — Saving Taxpayers Money

Officer Michael “Mac” McLeon is using aquaponics to transform the Texas Prison System.

Mac’s team set a goal to use aquaponics and grow a salad per day for their entire unit, including inmates AND the officers since they share the same meals. They are currently well on their way to the goal – at one salad every two weeks.

And this is not some limp-leaved lump of soggy lettuce… these are good salads! (see pic below). In addition to lettuce, the program also grows sun-loving fruiting crops like tomatoes and cucumbers, and fresh herbs for the dressing!

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 and uncovered three key takeaways.

Check out the Exclusive Interview with Officer Mac: How Aquaponics is Transforming the Texas Prison System  (http://bit.ly/2HE7zJI)

Aquaponics in Prisons Saves Taxpayer Money

Macs interview revealed three key points. In this post, we’ll discuss the first key point: aquaponics in prisons can save taxpayers money in a variety of ways.

For starters, aquaponics directly reduces the amount of food that prisons must purchase by supplementing meals with onsite produce. The cost to grow crops inside the prison is minimal. Mac estimates that he saves the State of Texas $0.40 for every head of lettuce they grow. Imagine how much they could save Texas taxpayers with a bigger operation!

In addition to the direct savings of growing their own food, aquaponics in prisons can save taxpayers money in two major long-term ways: 1) lower inmate healthcare costs from dietary based diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure; and 2) reduced recidivism by giving inmates a meaningful, rewarding skill they can employ once released.

In some states, the cost per inmate can be up to $60,000 per year. Mac notes that most inmates will one day be released. Aquaponics can give these citizens a positive skill to keep them from backsliding into the system, which is a major cost.

Stay tuned for the next two Key Points of Aquaponics in Prisons!