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?

Views: 4814

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hi W. Hall,

 

It would be a serious mistake to have the association, as a US based legal entity, own real property in other countries.  Any qualified lawyer would advise against that.  That's really not a realistic situation to begin with for a multitude of reasons, and in some countries it's not even possible at all.  Having a group of trustees control the property doesn't change that or make it better in any way. 

 

In such a case when/if someone wished to give some land to the association and the association felt it was even in its best interests to accept such a gift, a long term lease could be gifted or given for $1 to the association (simple thing to do).  The association doesn't need to own property, and frankly would do better without the encumbrances and COSTS and RISKS (things like property insurance, liability insurance, maintenance and repairs, utilities, property taxes, etc) involved in property ownership anyway.  THOSE are the things that make bankruptcy more likely because they create financial commitments that are fixed costs and must be met regardless of the association's cash flow situation.

 

If a donor just absolutely insists on gifting the property rather than gifting a lease, a legal entity in that country where the real property exists could be formed, so it can own the property as a legal and fully recognized LEGAL entity with rights.  The US based entity and US based trustees would really have questionable control or even no control over foreign real property (depending on where it is) to begin with.  But the bigger question is why wouldn't the Bahamas Association "own" it rather than the US entity anyway?  If it was owned by the Bahamas Association, it would be irrelevant if the US based entity liquidated its assets.  It could continue operating on its own accord without any issues.

 

If liquidation is required due to bankruptcy, trustees and the charter's statements of separation will do nothing to protect the assets owned by the association (they'll still be liquidated), UNLESS it is the intention of the association to have an entirely separate business entity that owns those assets.  This would not be advisable either.  Additional complexity, additional costs, decreased transparency and additional concerns of conflict of interest.  This situation would not be acceptable to me, and I absolutely would not be in support of the association under this arrangement, because I strongly feel it is against the best interests of the grower members, the people who make this industry possible to begin with.  I hope that doesn't come off as cocky, narcissistic or rude.  It's merely ethical concern and a desire to make sure that if this thing is going to make a go, at least it should be done right, and for the right reasons.

 

It is extremely difficult for an exec board to run an association into bankruptcy with a properly drafted set of bylaws in place (they are restricted in what they can do all by themselves), unless they were doing it fraudulently, which is why you put bonds in place to protect you (the association).  and require regular financial reports to be posted for member review.  This should be quite simple to do on a monthly basis considering there should be very limited transactions.

 

Hope this helps shed some light on things.

I want to express again that I really am not intending to make this a contentious discussion.  I truly see value in a properly organized and run association. I applaud the efforts of the organizers.  I can truly appreciate the huge time investment such an undertaking requires.  I just want to help "get it right", and if that can't be accomplished prior to the conference, I recommend waiting to launch until it can be (for the good of all involved). :)

 

As a stakeholder in the aquaponics and closely related aquaculture industry who has been involved in BOTH sides of the grower and vendor/supplier situation for over a decade, I want to make sure that an association that seeks to represent me and others, as well as an industry I and many others make a living from, represents us appropriately and in our best interests, as free as possible from vendor/supplier bias and/or potential for vendor/supplier usurpation and collusion.  In order for that to be the case, proper organizational structure and appropriate organizational safeguards are essential.

 

It appears that some progress is being made in that regard, and I am encouraged by it.

 

Kellen, you are heard and we are taking all this up in a meeting tonight.  We will post the results tomorrow.  You can stand down now, buddy 
Jon I see it another way. Being a commercial member your client base might be the hobbist like Sylvia or Murray clients are. IF they are building systems and doing research and sharing it with the members they are in fact helping the back yard operator. The association can  survey members on what they have and share that information with backyard operators. The association can also task back yard operations to do trials on components and share the pos and neg and not be liable for endorsement. The association can also do testing of fish loads, feed , additives ect.... and share all that info with the backyarders. It will give the backyarders a voice on what they need and the association can target their needs with the power of the associations talented people and funds. Can you imagine the first person to develope a test strip that will show mineral deficiencies. Wouldnt that be cool.Clear as mud I hope.

Jon Parr said:
Fair enough, David. I agree, a seal of approval may carry too much liability, and I suggested it, not the bylaws, as a possible benefit to backyard members. For instance, a manufacturer of indexing valves could send some samples and test data to to the association, they in turn could distribute samples to random members, and the resulting feedback could warrant a seal of approval. That seal would at least tell those interested in buying it that it had been tested by fellow users and the feedback was positive. That's all. No big deal, and perhaps like you side the liability may exceed the value.
Existing forums already pursue knowledge and research without dues or voting, or meetings to debate budgets and griefs. So along that line, backyarders stand little to gain from an association. I assume, then, that backyard aquaculturists stand little to gain from an AQ assn. And if vendors are denied a vote because they stand to profit off the growers, then that leaves commercial growers as the only beneficiaries of the association. Which is also fine, because success among growers will carry over to vendors of all sorts. Again along that line, then the primary objective is to help growers sell their products, by legal aid, safety guidelines, red tape scissors and so on. Then the dues and decisions should also be shouldered by the commercial growers, not the backyarders who have nothing to gain. I think the association is unique, in that backyarders outweigh the commercial growers for the time being.
Kobus I agree with you 100 percent that the association should go after scammers with a vengence. I nominate you for that hehe.

Kobus Jooste said:
David - that might have been a broken telephone from my comment.  I stated in response to someone out there asking what benefit the association might have for a backyarder and said that one of the things can can be done is to keep tabs on scamsters and fraudsters out there and warn members.  I don't think the idea is that we will be seeing an attempt to promote one vendor's wares over another.

David Waite said:
There has been some discussion as to giving a seal of approval on certain systems and products. Basically some are under the impression that the association will evaluate and recommend certain products or wares. This is not in any bylaws so not sure where this came from. This association should recommend known values, ratios, water chemistry, techniques ect,,,,ect,,,. We should never recommend or put a stamp of approval on a product. This opens up the association to a wide range of liability. However the association can say the members have great success  with Ruperts or Green acres systems without a stamp of approval. Hobbist members must realize this association is more along the lines of knowledge and research and not product endorsement. If for instance somebodys system was to get a bad batch of plastic from China and the association had a approval stamp it would make the association liable for harm or loss. The aquaculture association here has 1000's of venders but they dont recommend or put a stamp on anything. Just a thought.

Rupert is really good at catching the scam web sites and finding out who is behind them in many instances.

 


Re Scammers,
Yes sounds good that they are dealt with, but we need to be a bit cautious in this regard and exercise a great deal of care in deciding just who is a scammer.
We need to be very careful that the activity does not become a "witch hunt" 
I would be very worried about this kind of thing.
It is better to be positive and promote good practice rather than trying to weed out everything bad.
And there are threads on public forum where people tell eachother without the need for an association to do it or risk the liability.

When I suggested that an association could review a suppliers product... and give a "tick" of approval...

 

I wasn't suggesting an endorsement of the product... but more an "approval" that it met certain guidelines (by design) for adequate filtration, oxygenation for a maximum suiggested  safe stocking level...

 

Say taking Dr Lennards siziing tool (as a starting point) and running them over a suppliers systems, or designs...

 

I know there's been much discussion, and dissention about such things.. and I'm certain Earthan Group would chime into any such discussions...

 

But such a discussion and set of guidelines... hopefully based upon some real emperical studies... ultimately needs to be done as part of satisfying "customer" and "public" concerns and awareness of aquaponics... not just the safety of the produce... but perceptions of the ethical treatment of the fish...

 

Groups such as "treehugger" and "Peta"... ( regardless of anyones opinions)... have already at times shone a torch on such matters... and will no doubt continue to do so... and could impact public perceptions....

 

Likewise poorly designed systems.. that fail to meet inflated production claims... and/or fail to stock to a sustainable level.... will impact on public perceptions...

 

It's not going to be easy... but must be done IMO....

Hi TCLynx,

Public forums are not immune from legal action being taken against the administrators or moderators or an individual member. It is just in the Aquaponics forum world it has not happened....yet.
Unfortunately people join forums and use some silly name as their identifier. This leads a lot to believe they are anonymous and cannot be traced. This sad belief often leads to bad behaviour.  These days it is relatively easy to trace an individual.


TCLynx said:

And there are threads on public forum where people tell eachother without the need for an association to do it or risk the liability.
Agree 100% Rupert.  Matching production boasts to product design should become very important to prevent hype and misleading advertising.  Anyone can build a system, run it with max fish until the nitrates are in the red and then plant some veggies to show how you can grow a tree in a few weeks.  I'm more interested in the long term sustained outputs of systems.

RupertofOZ said:

When I suggested that an association could review a suppliers product... and give a "tick" of approval...

 

I wasn't suggesting an endorsement of the product... but more an "approval" that it met certain guidelines (by design) for adequate filtration, oxygenation for a maximum suiggested  safe stocking level...

 

Say taking Dr Lennards siziing tool (as a starting point) and running them over a suppliers systems, or designs...

 

I know there's been much discussion, and dissention about such things.. and I'm certain Earthan Group would chime into any such discussions...

 

But such a discussion and set of guidelines... hopefully based upon some real emperical studies... ultimately needs to be done as part of satisfying "customer" and "public" concerns and awareness of aquaponics... not just the safety of the produce... but perceptions of the ethical treatment of the fish...

 

Groups such as "treehugger" and "Peta"... ( regardless of anyones opinions)... have already at times shone a torch on such matters... and will no doubt continue to do so... and could impact public perceptions....

 

Likewise poorly designed systems.. that fail to meet inflated production claims... and/or fail to stock to a sustainable level.... will impact on public perceptions...

 

It's not going to be easy... but must be done IMO....

Last night the organizing committee met and made several substantial changes to the charter based on the feedback in here and the feedback we have received through the Association website.

Click here to access the latest version of the Charter.  Pages 4 - 6 contain a list of all the changes that were made in this revision, but I'll highlight two key changes here...

  • The entire Trustee structure has been removed
  • Membership is now down to just two levels - Member ($45 / year with 1 vote) and Affiliate ($120/yr, no votes)
    • Everyone signs up as member if they want to vote, whether they are a backyard gardener, a commercial farmer, a retailer or a manufacturer.  You join this organization as a person interested in advancing aquaponics, not a company.
    • Affiliate members are companies tied to aquaponics.  In return for their dues they will get a listing with a link on the Association website Affiliate page, and will be able to use the Association logo on their website and printed materials ("member of...").  The catch is that by becoming an Affiliate of the AA you are agreeing to conduct business in a way that will not damage the reputation of the association through it's affiliation with your business.  The Board will create a Code of Ethics that must be followed by any affiliate or they will be removed from affiliation with the AA.  This code is not intended to provide an endorsement, but rather be a set of basic, good business practices that will insure the integrity of the relationship between the Affiliate and the Association.

There are many other minor tweeks and fixes made (thanks mainly to Wayne!) but these were the highlights that we thought that this forum thread would be most interested in.  

We really are listening! 

Sylvia

Reply to Discussion

RSS

© 2020   Created by Sylvia Bernstein.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service