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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Hi Chris.  I just read the comments you submitted through the webpage - thank you so much for taking the time that you obviously took to comb through the language in  the Charter and submit those.  I believe we can address most, if not all, of your concerns with more carefully constructed language.  Expect a new version of the Charter early next week.

I also hear you about the 4 votes for commercial and your suggested change to the structure.  We will take that under advisement as well.

I do want to point out that the establishment of the Aquaponics Association at the Conference as been in place since we first announced the conference last spring - this is not something the organizers just came up with.  We believed - and still do - that 2 weeks for public comment was sufficient.  We will probably be able to get 2, maybe even 3, revisions out during this time before the conference that will reflect changes that have been suggested by thoughtful people such as yourself.  The opportunity to officially launch the Association with 200 people in the room was not one that we wanted to miss, nor should we given many people are coming to the conference just in order to participate in this event.

Also, this charter will in NO WAY be set in stone on Sept 18! This is the going in position and it can, and will, be modified over time as we learn and grow as an organization.  You have to start somewhere, right?

Anyway, thanks again Chris.  I hope you will consider becoming an officer!

I have to agree wholeheartedly with Chris and Rupert on this as well and was thinking the exact same thing.

There appears to be a lot at more at stake for those with vested interest. Its kind of like saying we want to promote it, lobby, and control the direction and only need your dues for our gain.

Take this site, say of 3200 members, how many are actually commmercial growers selling commercially 100?

Ok so that would mean their dues raise 24k or 25K. Take the other 3100 who just want a basic membership, a window sticker to promote the cause, or whatever, these tinkerers would be subsidizing 150k, but are only 1/4th as valuable?

I think some serious consideration needs to be given to the separation of the 2. Even if you separated the 2, then what....Supercommercial growers get 4 votes and regular commercial growers get only 1 vote? Usually here in america its 1 person 1 vote.

Don't take this the wrong way, but I can sell my produce now along the roadside and need no-ones stamp of approval to show or say I grew it aquaponically. Even if this organization turned out to be a huge commercial success via lobbying and the FDA, you can't tell people, "well being that you don't belong to our organization which was the grass roots for the whole movement you can't say its aquaponically grown without OUR certification". You'd then become your own little monsanto!  You'd also be graciously asked to leave my premises.

 I understand the need for uniformity when it comes to the commercial aspect and USDA rules, thats all fine and dandy if 1 is looking to sell commercially to stores.

. I don't plan on going commercial but I think your kind of asking a lot out of small time growers and tinkerers, its kind of like saying well we hear you, but were going to ensure through the board and commercial growers this goes the direction we want it to go "now how will you be paying your dues? check, cash or credit card?"

 

As for the branches. Why not just keep the states as their own branches? I take it no-one making the divisional lines drove from eastern Ohio to upper Minnesota.It'd be like 1000 miles. Or maybe consider putting North South Dakota minnesota and Wisconsin together?  and exactly where is Iowa? Its not listed., Or maybe Ohio Indiana michigan and illinois? I'm actually reluctant to drive anywhere out of state for someone elses cause.For learning or educational purposes yeah.

 IMHO I think states are more idea with each state growing as the need arises. Differant states have differant budgets and differant urban programs, grants, and promotions of green or health based initiatives. Some corporate some municipal. You can't and won't have the same policy or direction with places like say Indy that has a pork tent at the state fair versus a town in michigan with a strawberry or blueberry festival. Let alone here in lil ole indianer, Where I'm located is extremely poor, the reason no one is even going to consider buying higher price quality foods let alone starting an AP system............kind of why and how I started mine to make a compact cost effected system......people love it.....but have no money.

Geographically growing seasons are another issue from where Im at versus my parents in Michigan, the growing differance is like florida versus kentucky. No where near the same.

 

As for the charter, Reasons for discipline....acting contrary?................rather broad sweep of the brush. If conflict of interest was in the charter....the organization wouldn't even be able to start, so exactly what would constitute acting contrary to the rules of the organization?......A differant vision? Concept? Direction?Disagreement? Dissent?........see what I mean on rather broad?

 

The mad german

 

Let me be clear.  This statement "There appears to be a lot at more at stake for those with vested interest. Its kind of like saying we want to promote it, lobby, and control the direction and only need your dues for our gain" in no way reflects my opinion.  I have absolutely no reservations about any member of the group who wrote this, or the group as a whole.  The point I was trying to make was that this structure of "super members" with 4 votes is not a viable structure to build on for the long term.

 

That being said, the following two clauses are the ones I was referring to as deal breakers in my last post.  From Chapter 1, Article 1:

 

7.  No member of The Association shall be allowed or authorized to establish incorporate or create any instrument that has the intent of governing the affairs of that member.


8. The Bylaws of The Association shall govern all internal workings of each and every member of the Association.

 

The way these clauses are currently written implies an attempt to control how individual members run their systems.  I have absolutely no doubt that this is just a case of unfortunate wording.  My suggestions for changes to these two items:

 

7.  No member of The Association shall be allowed or authorized to establish incorporate or create any instrument that has the intent of governing the affairs of the Association.


8. The Bylaws of The Association shall govern all internal workings of each and every Chapter and Branch of the Association.

 

 

I think I wrote the same thing, but in a differant way about being controlled, having a vote of no value and then paying a due.

If and When I write anybody a check, its usually for services rendered or a purchase, and so what would I be getting out of this if the commercial growers are the ones benefitting? Being I'm not in it for the money but as a hobbyists and eating safe quality food, thus the reason I firmly believe the 2 entities need to be split.

If you or anyone took offense....sorry, but thats me, I give no one money for nothing or for free other then a local charity, the same reason I don't give to the united way, when here in the great state of indiana only 7 cents on the dollar actually has to go to the cause, with the executive officers salary expending most of the funds.....not happening, I can give direct and see results. So......asking what I get out of this from the non-commercial hobbyists side with next to no-voting power or authority shouldn't be offensive to anyone. I'm not the only one whose going to ask this.

Good grief!  I hope this isn't offensive, but some of you need to get a grip!  This is not an organization that is being formed to control anybody!  It is being established to promote aquaponics - nothing more, nothing less.  If you want to join, great. Our goal is to make joining compelling enough so that you will want to join us in this quest to make aquaponics as compelling to John Q Public as it is to those of us in this forum.  And if you don't want to join, fine!  No worries.   Can't imagine where the betrayal and heartbreak are in there, but the drama is a bit ridiculous, frankly.  These are just some people in this industry who are trying to get some other people together to promote what we think is a common goal.

@ Mad German

There appears to be a lot at more at stake for those with vested interest. Its kind of like saying we want to promote it, lobby, and control the direction and only need your dues for our gain

Not sure what you mean by this, but the dues can go towards projects like creating aquaponics curriculum for elementary schools, creating aquaponics educational materials for all members to use (perhaps a video or slide show that can be shown at community or church events), or perhaps eventually used to lobby governments to change arcane food safety laws to allow fish to be near produce growing operations.  Our gain?  I think that anyone in aquaponics would gain from this kind of activity, don't you?

 

"well being that you don't belong to our organization which was the grass roots for the whole movement you can't say its aquaponically grown without OUR certification". You'd then become your own little monsanto!

Seriously? Where in any of these documents did you read anything that went to this? Certification is a very controversial subject in this community, and the organizers recognized it as such. There are no plans to pursue certification in here - only leaving open the possibility if the membership votes to pursue it in the future.  

Why not just keep the states as their own branches?

The simple reason for this is that it felt like there would be too many branches, especially in the U.S., for such a young organization. Don't forget that in order for a Branch to become active they need at least 3 officers - Chairman, Secretary and a Treasurer. That said, we are completely open to views to the contrary and could easily change this if there were enough people who wanted to.

@ Chris - As I said before, the points you brought up concern poorly written phrases - they will be changed, I can assure you.

@ Raychel - No one is trying to control anyone here.  This is a group trying to get together like-minded folks to do good work to promote aquaponics.  If you would like to join us - great. Please submit your concerns so we can try to work them into the charter.  Run for office.  Get involved. If you don't want to join in, no worries!  

I belong to an organization called the Garden Writers Association (GWA) that is very similar to what we are trying to do here.  The members pay dues in order to network with each other, share materials and opportunities,  receive a newsletter about activities in the garden writing world, attend annual and regional conferences at a discounted rate, participate in a speakers bureau, and experience whatever intangible benefits belonging to an organization gives you.  No one tells me I can't be a garden writer without this membership.  That would be ludicrous!  But I feel good about being a member of an organization that is doing work to support garden writing (research, Plant a Row for the Hungry, etc).  The only control they exert over me is that if I don't follow the rules - i.e. I call a press conference as a representative of the GWA, or do something that seriously damages their reputation - then I can be suspended.  I accept that as a member, and in fact I'm glad they do this because it prevents damage to the reputation of the organization, and by extension myself.

Sylvia

One Love...
Hi TCLynx, I know the Permaculture Research Institute here in Australia have recently built an Aquaponics system from components and advice supplied by Murray Hallam and are formulating their own fish pellet/food trials from home grown vegetable produce and wild pond grown crustaceans/organisms so I'll be keen to see how well these trials go with Australian Silver Perch and if the protein content is suitable for growing fish in aquaponics in a sustainable way. There are many people in Aust Government CSIRO Research looking at Canola and other methods (including Gene splicing and other wild and crazy ideas) This kind of info I imagine could go into an industry newsletter if an Aquaponics association of some sort went ahead.

TCLynx said:

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.



Sylvia Bernstein said:

There are no plans to pursue certification in here - only leaving open the possibility if the membership votes to pursue it in the future.  

 

Well that's a pity Sylvia... because I would have thought certification, and adoption of HACCP and "best practice" methodologies... would have been probably the major role of any aquaponics association...

 

Particularly in terms of defining such standards for "commercial growers"... current and prospective... and a level of public acceptance of the the food safety of aquaponic produce... (I thought this was a priority of the proposed association??)

 

But also in terms of developing a "certification"  standard for educational cirriculums... and "industry" supply groups... many of who are now beginning to offer, or represent their own brands of "aquaponic certification"... and "universities"

 

What benefit then.. does the proposed "association" have, or offer... over and above that which can/is discussed regularly.. and broadly... within the various aquaponic forums...???

Is there a method to identify what a commercial grower is other than the amount of dues one pays? And what is the main reason for separating commercial growers from the everyday grower tinkerer? There must have been some thought process that we are missing other than the few that have been proposed in this forum.  I do agree that it may cause a split in the future.

 

Tom

@Rupert - The organizers of this association can only voice a proposed vision, which is currently open for debate and clarification.  Any actual priorities of the association will be set by the new officers and membership.  If you are interested in shaping this future then please put your name in to be an officer of the organization!

Well actually... I think the priorities of the association... should be set by the members... and persued by the "officers"...

 

I agree... forming a "broad church" that represents all groups that have an interest in aquaponics... will be difficult...

 

And I'm not as yet convinced that an all encompassing association is either needed or ready to be endorsed...

 

I do believe a "commercial growers" organisation is needed.. and necessary for both the sake of the commercial viability of "commercial" aquaponics businesses... and public exceptance of aquaponics produce....

 

And for any such "international" association to be successful... it must adopt a set of "guidelines"... an industry code of practicse... that aims to acheive worldwide standards...

 

At the moment, and i make the following as a comment, rather than a critiscism... US food safety standards are below that of many other countries, in terms of accepted "international standards" and principles such as HACCP... and many "commercial growers"... both current and prospective.... have an apparant anathma to any proposed "governmental", or "international" regulation...

 

If the "association" and/or the industry is not prepared to become "self-regulating".... according to a code of practice endorsed by an association... then I fear that regulation WILL be imposed...

The truth about this charter is simple. Get it going and fast or lose to big agriculture in regulation. What do you think is going to happen when enough commercial growers are putting a dent in wholesalers of foreign produce . Or commercial farms of vegetables start losing market share to these organic growers that are in every city. With there lobbying power they just have to  change one regulation and the aquaponics way of growing is over. Think about it . If one corrupt congressman proposas a bill that all aquaponics growers must test there water weekly for ecoli . Let say this test costs 900.00. You are no longer competetive. If you dont think this will happen you need to grow up. This will happen in Au and the US within the next 15 years. I hate regulations and fees but if you are going to do this commercially you had better get organized. Think about it another way. What if enough politicians see what aquaponics commercial ventures can produce and start promoting it. Once monsanto or their ilk get wind that legislation is being proposed to ban all chemicals on our food you dont think this industry will throw alot of money and buy a senator or two. I realize this charter didnt start off perfect. What in life does. Fix it and move on. Whatever bad blood is in AU work it out. Remember people our cars used to burn alcohol until big oil started prohibition. Read your history people. Just a thought.

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