Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

I'm starting this forum topic for anyone who is interested in talking about the new Aquaponics Association.  While nothing will be set in stone when we officially adopt the Charter at the Conference on Sept 16, we'd like to get it as close to representative of what the aquaponics community is hoping for by that time.

If you go to the page that we've set up on the Association site (click here) you can download the Charter and Organizational structure, and answer some questions about your constructive feedback and how can we give you value for your membership dues.  Please take the survey!

Feel free to ask any questions about what we are doing here - the Organizing Committee (myself, Gina Cavaliero, Murray Hallam and Wayne Hall) is an open book, and everyone is a member in this community site.  We are 100% committed to creating an organization that will serve aquaponics well...although we obviously won't be able to do everything right out of the gate, nor will we be able to make everyone happy.  

I'd like to start the discussion rolling by asking a question  that I asked on Murray's forum this morning - how can we bring value to both Individual Members and Commercial members for their dues?  We've listed several things we could do on the survey linked above.  What are we missing?  What sounds great?

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I hear you Tom... and agree... and have similar thoughts Earthan Group...


I really don't want to appear to being "negative" to this proposal... or see this discussion degenerate into "personailites"...

And that's why I'm asking the questions as to the role and voting rights of "suppliers"... and "trustees"...

Because otherwise I think that perceptions of "vested interest" could easily derail the proposal...

The first notice of motion I was going to propose was actually...

"That the inaugaral convention recognise the role played by Sylvia, Murray, Gina, and... in the initial formation of the proposed association... and elect the named persons to the role of "trustees" for a period of 12 months to facilitate the organisation of the association and structures..."

Other motions...

"That the "board" give notification of the intended date of the next, and subsequent AGM 90 days before the proposed date.. and invite notices of motion to be submitted in writing"

"That all positions will be declared vacant at the next AGM, and nominations for positions be notified within 60 days before the AGM"

"That the board publish all proposed "notices of motion" and all proposed nominations within 30 days of the proposed AGM"

"That the subsequent term of the trustees will not exceed three conferences"

And a few others...

I hate politics! I certainly do not like squabbling. I feel a head ache coming on....more later.

Rupert, I can support those resolutions.

Carey ,I hope your head ache gets better. I think there will be a few more before this is all over.


@Rupert and Earthan - Good thoughts.  Please put all your suggestions for changes to the charter into into the form provided here so that we have a record of all of them in one database.  We will take this up for discussion next week, along with the other comments we are receiving through the website.  Thanks

@Tom - thanks for your eloquent thoughts.  I agree wholeheartedly and appreciate your kind words

@Carey - I"m with you, buddy. 

I think Rupe is Right that certain things need to be clarified.

However, I don't think it will work that well to say equipment suppliers can't be members or can't vote seeing as some suppliers are also growers and they became suppliers simply because they had to find all the right distributors in order to build their systems and they therefore have the contacts to sell the stuff they are already using.  So I don't believe that an equipment supplier should be disqualified to have a voice in the association especially if they are also growers and/or backyard practitioners.


Now I must admit I'm busy and haven't gotten through even a fraction of my reading today and haven't gotten to go read the charter myself yet but one of the first goals I hope the Association can help us all with is Fish feed sustainability.  (Trying to get away from wild caught fish meal and also avoiding GMO corn soy and other ingredients.)  This will probably involve contact with Aquaculture associations, educational institutions involved in such research, and feed companies.  I know research is already underway in some areas so hopefully the Aquaponics Association can get access to some of the information.

TCL, I'm not suggesting that suppliers should be excluded per se... I just don't believe they should have a weighted vote as proposed...


I understand the point you're making... but an association needs to represent the voice of growers and backyarders first...


The executive secondly... and suppliers last....


Otherwise politics will raise it's head more often than not... and an entrenched non-removable executive would ultimately just result in the movement splintering down the track and "rival" associations being formed...


The idea, and intentions are good... all that is needed is transparancy.. to remove any suggestions of "interest"...

@ Tom - thank you!  Your thoughts are most appreciated.  :)


@ Carey - I am right with you brother!  I am sure the squabbling will soon cease and there will be more positive banter as is typical of this site.  Sorry about your head!


In general, the four of us that took this on did so with completely altruistic intentions, but I realize it is human nature to question that and/or doubt it.  Most want to question what we would have to gain from it and I will say lots!  That does not change our altruistic intentions as the promotion of aquaponics in general is something I think we all will benefit from, whether a backyarder or commercial enterprise.  The more aquaponics gains in notoriety and legitimacy, the better it will be for the industry as a whole and while being commercial and seeing the benefits there, I can recognize that promoting the industry to the extent that everyone should have a backyard system is only a very good thing.  More are beginning to recognize that our food supply is controlled and corrupted by big corporate interests and that each household taking some steps to grow their own food is a step, no matter how small, towards food soveriegncy.  With the advent of investor interests in agriculture and farmland, that could only mean more trouble for agriculture in the context of more big business and now banking is getting their hands more into it then before.  That is the last thing agriculture needs but now banking sees it as a good investment for the next 20 to 30 years.  That alone gives me a huge headache! 

Can and will this association be a great benefit to aquaponics?  Certainly!  Is the proposed charter and structure perfect? Certainly not!  That is why we have presented it for comments and constructive criticism and hope to learn and incorporate much from what the community has to offer.  I won't indulge some of the criticisms I have seen today other than saying could things have been done differently or better?  Sure, hindsight is 20/20, right?  Now let's move forward positively and constructively and help forge the future of aquaponics with this new association.  It is our hope and we are actually pretty confident that many will want to be a part of it as well.  


Gina Cavaliero

Thus, if I can try to summarise what I am reading having just woken up, there seem to be a general consensus that this association will be a good thing but that there is a need for the charter to be worked on, some established voices in Australia that want some more input time into details of the charter and questions regarding the role of the individuals who get it all off the ground. This does not sound like a serious stalemate at all. 


As this is not Africa (I may say that hahahahaha) the idea surely is that the people that get it off the ground does not necessarily have the ability to "keep staying in charge" for a protracted period of time as there will be regular voting for key positions and I did not see "king of kings" anywhere in the charter.  I have always maintained that this type of body need to be put together to give a voice to the industry and develop professional operating standards for commercial growers.  In the end, it is likely that a maturing association will have a seat of power gravitating to the region that has the most of the type of people that is represented by the association, with other chapters ensuring that their special interests on a regional basis is taken care of.  The groundswell is coming from the US now but who knows where it may end up? If the charter and board voting and terms are set up such that all is happy, then the way people vote in future cannot be controlled by who sets it up to begin with.


I see none of these matters as life threatening but agree that the timeline between posting the charter for review and the upcoming association conference is tight.  Then again, whoever is going to end up in a administrasive position for the first few years will be working like a demon to get a structure in place thus I also think that it re-assuring that there may be so many people wanting in on this important time period.


I cannot quite get an understanding of the continued fight over "interest" though.  We all have a serious amount of interest invested here and will not be trying to put together or support an association if we did not see the benefits of it - for us and our region.  I personally would love to become a supplier to a future industry, for consultation, design, materials, whatever.  I have no land to farm on myself but support community efforts to develop social compacts and to farm together.  All of these are "interests" I have that will do better if they are addressed through an association rather than my lone quests over the last few years.  The growth of the industry is my interest and as such, I am unsure of why people raise concerns over "interests".  The interests referred to better get spelled out in terrific detail for all to see otherwise I fear that do not understand such concerns at present.  As to splintering off, the only place I see raising concerns about splintering off right now is Australia and frankly, I suspect that with the polarisation of the backyard industry there, getting a single body to speak for all of Australia will take a decade to put together.  Their puplic spats and banning people off forums is there in cyberspace for all to see.  IMHO the foundation for problems in the Australian context is sparring between a few prominent component suppliers.  Thus I am taking the view that what is playing out here in terms of the concerns that will be raised regarding the charter (I am not dismissing any of the issues raised and support most of what is being said) has an underlying history peculiar to the region and present for longer than the attempts to get this association off the ground and was to be expected. 


A last point Rupert: What is the role of backyarders in this association?  Is this not going to be a body through which commercial growing practice is going to take a serious front row seat?  Why put backyarders before commercial industry role players?  I cannot see why my vote as a tinkerer with a backyard unit should be worth more than my vote as a industry supplier or system designer.  That makes no sense. 

Kobus Jooste said:

A last point Rupert: What is the role of backyarders in this association?  Is this not going to be a body through which commercial growing practice is going to take a serious front row seat?  Why put backyarders before commercial industry role players?  I cannot see why my vote as a tinkerer with a backyard unit should be worth more than my vote as a industry supplier or system designer.  That makes no sense. 


Agreed completely Kobus... I don't have a problem with the weighting of the "commercial growers" vote at all...


And I agree that suppliers and "backyarders" have a parity vote... which is what I meant when I suggested that "suppliers" have a "singular" vote... as do the "backyarders"...


No arguement there at all...


My other comments were more a matter of where the focus of representation by an association lay... and I think in that respect "backyarders" should rank above "suppliers"...


And possible licencing, regulatory and compliance issues would be one reason that might dictate that...

Hi Sylvia, Gina and Murray,


I have only just started reading the pdf's and noticed on the pdf re Branches and Charters the spelling of Trinidad & Tobago you may want to take a look at that. I will be reading the larger doc today and should hopefully comeback with constructive comments.

Our apologies, Nigel!  It is fixed now.

I guess I'll throw my 2 cents in.  Rupert has a point about suppliers, but I'm going to go a step farther.  4 votes for commercial members versus 1 vote for private members is rapidly going to change this from the International Aquaponics Association to the International Commercial Aquaponics Association.  I can understand the desire to give the commercial members more bang for their bigger bucks, but it won't take long for a small block of commercial growers to take complete control of the IAA.  If 25% + 1 members of the IAA are commercial, that's enough for control.  And when that happens you can expect a lot of non-commercial members to split off into another association.


I would suggest that this organization be a general membership organization, where each member gets one vote, and a separate commercial organization be set up for the commercial operators.  The commercial organization could be a subsidiary organ of the association, with it's own officers and the goal of promoting commercial applications of aquaponics only, while the mother organization supports aquaponics in general.  Let membership in the commercial association confer membership in the parent association, with 1 vote in the parent association and 1 vote in the commercial.


I understand this will be more complicated, and currently there are few commercial operators, possibly too few to support a separate organization.  Also there is limited time, but only because the organizers decided to try to get this done by the conference.  It's an artificial deadline that could easily be pushed back.


Now none of this is a deal killer for me.  If commercial growers are going to have 4 votes that will not keep me from joining the association.  I will just fatalistically wait for the split to happen and chose whichever one is appropriate for my circumstances at the time. 


There are a couple of clauses that are deal killers for me, but I've already submitted them and I'm pretty sure they were not intended the way I read them.

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