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 agree with you David... an association is definitely needed for "commercial growers"...

 

Not sure what you mean in terms of "whatever bad blood is in "AU work it out"??

I firmly believe an association is needed at all levels. The Aquaponics family is very small right now but it is growing at an astonishing rate. Why not start early, get the bugs ironed out and move forward.  It is a "no-brainer"  There is a bit of flack flying around over here in Australia but that will settle down when people work out that we are not trying to rewrite the constitution of the USA or the Commonwealth constitution in Australia, just a common interest body that work for the benefit of all involved.
Sorry, I am not all that clued in on how to work this particular software. This post is just general and not answering Rupert in particular.

"Bad blood in Aussie" we have been trying to work it out ever since the English slapped us in chains and sent us here !!!

Oh my folks, I don't even know where to begin here as there is so much to respond to.

 

First and in general, this is a "proposed" charter presented to this forum and to several thousand more for feedback so it can be shaped as best it can to represent the community at large.  Even once it is presented at the association meeting it doesn't mean it is bible.  It can be massaged and ammended as much as is needed.  It is a work in progress that will continue to evolve as the industry evolves and the association evolves.  There is no need to assume that this is some final, unequivocal document.

 

Second, regarding the dissension surrounding the four votes that commercial members "might" have.  This was a consideration for commercial members that have multiple owners and/or employees.  Should not each of these individuals have the right to vote?  Didn't you say Mad German, one person, one vote?  Why should the individuals in a commercial operation be any different?  Or should a commercial member only be allowed one vote and then they also need to join as an individual member so that each partner in a commercial venture have a voice?  Do you see the issue here?  That's not very realistic is it?  However I do see how this structure could propose an unequal weight distribution in favor of commercial interests, but realistically if there are more commercial "individuals" they would out weigh backyard individuals anyway. What then can anyone constructively propose?  A variable design for commercial members based upon the number of actual people involved perhaps?  A commercial entity may want to offer membership to an employee much like that to Sam's Club or Costco and literally purchase that membership for the individual.  However to restrict a structure that encompasses multiple individuals to one solitary vote to me does not seem fair or democratic at all.

 

Next, those that are proposing a separation between backyard and commercial, I am sorry  but I don't understand this at all.  Where did it get missed that what we are trying to develop is a collective association that represents all of aquaponics and promotes aquaponics for the best interest of all.  Yet some want to make this devisive as if there is something so horribly different between the two.  Really how does that benefit aquaponics as a whole to create associations that divide?  I honestly don't understand why there is so much fervor by some backyarders towards commercial interests.   We are not Monsanto!  I can't speak for all commercial interest obviously but what is so horrible in trying to make a living doing what you love?  As one, I have to say, we are not evil and bad and intending to rule food production but hope to enact a change and relocalize food production from the very monsters we were compared to above. That is just wrong.  And realistically individual members would currently far outweigh commercial anyway.

 

Regarding comments about this association controlling anyone or anything.   Where does the charter say anything about control?  If it does, it somehow eluded me and I helped write it!  It doesn't say anyone will be forced to be a member or that without that membership any individual would somehow loose any type of credibility.  It is simply optional.  Join if you think it can benefit you and if you think you can help promote its vision.  Do you want to help advance aquaponics and reach more people with it?  Then join and support and do that!  If you think you can do that better on your own, than by all means, do it on your own.  No worries!   

 

As far as when is a group 'old enough' to have an association to help promote it?  It seems to me that the best time to do such a thing is when it is young so it can have help maturing.  I refer to the primary mission of the association, To promote the benefits of aquaponic growing   What better way to reach a wider audience and achieve that goal then to have an organization with a voice and backing?  Why would anyone find fault with that?  Its a somewhat simple equation. Said group is young.  Organization is created to help grow said group.  Said group is now older because the organization helped it to mature.  Yet there has been so much heated opinion that aquaponics doesn't need an association.  When would it be considered needed then?  When it is reactionary due to some oppression or issue?  Isn't it then too late? Why not be proactive and head off potential issues or concerns with a concerted voice of people brought together to further the best interests of aquaponics. 

 

Some may say how can any potential issues plague the backyarder, that it is only the commercial entity that has these concerns.  I see that question coming, so here ya go.  Let's say hypothetically that aquaponics gains some bad publicity because some individual failed to wash there hands and someone somehow gets sick.  Consider what happened to the tomato industry a couple years ago.  It was decimated and it turned out the offending veggie was an avocado. Nonetheless, the tomato industry suffered gravely.  Lets not even point our finger at the commercial grower here but say it is some little guy doing aquaponics in his backyard and selling on the side of the road.  Do you not think that the bad publicity this could generate wouldn't hurt the backyard realm?  Perhaps not the existing backyarder unless you share your bounty with others that may hear this bad press. I am willing to bet though that it could easily dissuade others from doing it and joining the backyard ranks.  There you go.  Bad publicity, no entity to do damage control and dispel the potential rumors that this fish poop grown food wasn't the culprit, but the guy who took a poo and didn't wash his hands before he picked his peppers.  Do you really think that the general public is informed enough to know that the fish poo wasn't the culprit?  Consider this, those in the food safety certifying business can't even make that logical distinction!

 

Rupert, you stated, Well actually... I think the priorities of the association... should be set by the members... and persued by the "officers"...  How would you facilitate that?  Have a mass amount of people make suggestions and then sort through them all and see which ideas repeat the most?  Realistically only the vocal ones, which comprise a very small handful like now, are going to be vocal!  Those of us that took this beast on proposed what we thought would benefit aquaponics in general and again are asking the community to weigh in on those objectives.  Sadly, I have seen very few opinions or constructive comments regarding what should be the most important thing here, what in the heck should this organization do!   What it should do is promote, promote, promote for the industry's, the backyarder's and the commercial entity's benefit.  

 

Regarding this comment, 

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

If those of us that put this thing together didn't care about the community's opinion or didn't have the communities best interests at heart, we wouldn't have put the charter out there at all.  As for the time frame, we did the best we could taking what time we could from our lives to do this but instead our intentions have been scrutinized and judged and construed to be for our own personal gain. That's pretty messed up.  

 

All the concerns about verbiage of the charter can be corrected and addressed and those that sincerely want to see aquaponics advance and fulfill its potential as a means to change the way food is grown, please just get on board. Or better yet, become an officer and be one of the ones helping to shape it.  

 

I am going to save my thoughts about certification for another post.  That is a whole other animal!

Gina

 

 

David and Murray, thank you a thousand times!  Great points both of you!

Gina, I think your post.. and those of others represent the very crux of the matter... many people are perhaps uncertain what the proposed association will "promote"... where the emphasis might lay in terms of which area of aquaponics... and/or what benefit(s) might be forthcoming....

 

As I proposed earlier (and must get around to posting on the site)... members must have the right and facility to propose motions to be heard and debated at an annual conference... and the association must effectively represent and be the voice of it's members...

 

An association driven from the top down... usually ends up hijacked by sectional interests, "personailites"... or loses touch with it's membership... the executive of an associatiion is there to facilitate the wishes of it's members...

 

And that's what I alluded to in a previous post regarding the need for those that put up their hand to serve... to be alturistic... in many cases... serving in such positions is a thankless task....

I'm confused.

 

I see a whole lot of people here saying the things that I was thinking about in terms of an aquaponics association, and then I see a lot of issues that I simply cannot imagine.  I thought, based on the discussions that took place months ago, that the association will be tasked with addressing the kinds of best practice HACCP standards market development issues that an association normally does - forming a united body of SUPPORT (for heavan's sake not control) for growers, designers, component suppliers, distributers etc to slot into a more secure environment to promote aquaponics in.  It can also start doing the kind of grassroots consumer education, school and development agency outreach that had been mentioned.  For me in South Africa, these are the important functions.  Any mention of aquaponics to potential investors here, they go running to the hydro crowd, get there input, and come back to tell us aquaponics is so and so because of what we have heard.  They cannot Google a best practice, industry charter, food safety, production capacity or whatever document BECAUSE IT DOES NOT EXIST. I cannot see how aquaponics will go anywhere without this.  The shrimp industry has it, the tilapia farmers do the same.  Does not mean you HAVE to belong to the association or die, you can do what you want, but in the real commercial world, these structures are needed or, like David and Rupert pointed out, you will not get far.

 

Thus, as I actively showcase (without fear of persecution) my systems that are unconventional in design, I do not see any association charter telling people what their units may look like or be built of.  I see it as a platform in which component suppliers could advertise their wares and the association can independantly verify claims and protect members from "Good, Bad and Ugly" people out there that take advantage of the chaos that aquaponic designs and components is now. 

 

Growers that want to sell in other small scale markets and platforms do not have to be part of this thinking, but in the end, a unified body may even benefit them. 

 

Am I mistaken in thinking that this is where an association was headed? I know there is a lot of discussion around voting issues and such, but it appears as if my perception of what the association might do is faulty. 

Amen Kobus... I agree completely...

 

 I see it as a platform in which component suppliers could advertise their wares and the association can independantly verify claims and protect members from "Good, Bad and Ugly" people out there that take advantage of the chaos that aquaponic designs and components is now

 

And yes... this is another very good point.... consumers should be able to source systems and products that have been tested and proven to work... and be "endorsed" as such by the association..

Kobus, you raise good points. An industry body will serve everyone very well. Suppliers of product and information should want to be part of such an organisation...unless they are flogging bad product or info. I think there would be a good measure naturally occurring, sorting out taking place without any need for "committee" rulings and the like that some have expressed concern about.
In General, i think its hard to bring Backyard and Commercial under one roof. 2 different worlds. A associtation for Backyard APs, is a great idea to help promote Aquaponics.......BACKYARD AP. I hope i find myself one day in a Chapter, as there is no Chapter for Asia or Austria, yet.

Hi All,

 

Forgive me for just chiming in as I have just had the distinct pleasure or pain of enduring a direct hit from a Category 3 Hurricane that came visiting our shores and went by the name of "Irene".

 

I live on a little sand bank on the edge of the Atlantic in my little bit of paradise called The Islands of the Bahamas.

 

For the last 4 days we have been without what most would call a basic comfort of life, electricity and water. Where everything that we use is imported from somewhere else, and when the boats do not arrive we have to do without.

 

Irene came and visited all 700 islands in the Bahamas, and sadly some of the jewels in our crown have been completely washed into the sea never to be seen again. Literally.

 

Yet here I am still alive and ready to take on the world!

 

I have read with complete astonishment some of the comments posted here and now I have a headache!

 

It is my fault for having been tasked with drafting the initial draft charter which Sylvia, Gina, Murray and myself have been studiously working to perfect for the past several weeks so that we could present a document for consideration to the rest of the Aquaponics community at large.

 

It is and has always been our intention to be as transparent as possible, to give a document which would allow the potential new members of the Aquaponics Association, no matter where on the globe you may be, a starting point, so that we may all be proud of the fact the each and every one of us are Aquaponic enthusists and that we share a coming goal in promoting aquaponics in whatever shape or form that it comes in.

 

We wish we could have included everyone in our discussion but at last that did not happen, and I personally apologize, as I know each of you would have been more than willing to have had sleepless nights, to give up your free time for the good of the many, to give of your very limited resources so that everyone would be happy and to be verbally flogged so that someone else would receive joy.

 

But I digress, I just wanted to bring to your attention Article 14.2 of the "PROPOSED" Charter:

 

Alterations, additions and amendments to this Charter and its Bylaws may be made by Resolution and carried by a majority vote at the Annual Association Conference.

Any proposed alteration or amendment to this Charter and its Bylaws must be submitted to the Secretary at least thirty (30) days prior to the date set for the convening of the Annual Association Conference or a Special Conference for the purpose.

 

Unfortunately I was unable to find a PICTURE that would adequately convey the written word so I had no choice but to put it in writing.

 

Now if you will forgive me I need to have a nice long soak in a hot bath, because if I do say so myself "I smell like a dead animal".

 

Until later.

 

Kind Regards,

 

Wayne Hall from a little sand bank on the edge of the Atlantic in my little bit of paradise called The Islands of the Bahamas.

 

 

 

Really, you think that will work John?  I work closely with some very private commercial interests around integrated aquaculture.  You suggest because "The Association" does not know about it (and none of you will) or does not endores it, it is somehow fraudulent or less viable?

 

RupertofOZ said:

 

And yes... this is another very good point.... consumers should be able to source systems and products that have been tested and proven to work... and be "endorsed" as such by the association..

Hey Rupert. It seems by this thread there is some bruised ego's between Murray and BYAP in regards who was notified first and who had the most imput, resulting in some growing pains. Im not stating for the record this charter should be just commercial growers. They mainly will be the main thrust in organization and money as this community grows. If you dont let the suppliers as well as the commercial growers have a lead role you might lose the fuel to build this charter. I am a realist on what makes the world tic. I have no opinion on the voting power of 4 vs 1 commercial to hobbyist,  I think due to the small size you must combine the two to build it and muster all the forces under one tent so to speak. It will over time break into two as the industry grows. Every charter or organization does as the needs of the commercial or pro are different from the needs of the hobbyist. My vote would be stay combined , commercial and hobbyist for organizational power until the time that the charter is so large two organizations would be better suited as independent organizations. Strength in numbers so to speak. If this charter doesnt have Murray, BYAP, all the US  and other world interests including knowlegeable people like yourself it wont get off the ground. Your skills of water chemistry are one of the most important to this group. So Rupert my vote is you get in on the ground level of this monster and be the voice for the hobbist and help write the charter or amend it to protect the little guy and make sure this charter thrives. I cant do it I can barely write. hehe.

RupertofOZ said:

I agree with you David... an association is definitely needed for "commercial growers"...

 

Not sure what you mean in terms of "whatever bad blood is in "AU work it out"??

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