Aquaponic Gardening

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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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Good morning!  I was told by my family last night to "step away from the computer(!)" and spend the rest of my Saturday evening with them so I missed the fun in here.  Wayne, great to have you back, buddy!  Glad you survived with only the need for a bath, but so sorry for the tragedy that has befallen the beautiful islands.

There continue to be some excellent points made and I just want to address a couple of them.  With regard to the issue of certification, there are obviously strong cases to be made around both the need for certification and the fear of certification.  My point earlier, Rupert, was that IMHO assigning this as a priority of the new Association did not seem like an appropriate function of the organizing committee - our role is just to get this "monster" off the ground which is largely a structural task.  Is it also not something that will be decided on a forum thread, although I would hope that the eloquent points made in here are not lost when more official discussions take place.  I strongly believe that the priorities of the new association, outside some very vague (and I think uncontroversial) notion of promoting aquaponics and setting initial priorities around just getting organized, should be left to the membership and officers of the new association.  

So sign up to lead...or at least join...and be a voice in setting those priorities!  We have had many people fill out the officer form already - is your name in there? (some of your's are...)  We have also had 20 people take the time to read the charter and comment through the webpage survey - (only one of them present on this, or any other forum thread, BTW) - and of those 20, 12 have said they would join as Backyarders, 5 have said they would join as Commercial members, and 3 have said they would not join (although one of them said in the comments that this was actually a "maybe").  I"m pretty happy about those numbers.

The second point I wanted to make is to backup what David said about needing to at least start this new organization with both backyard and commercial growers side by side. (well said BTW, David, even though you say you "can barely write - LOL) The reality is that the organizing committee consisted of two backyarders and two commercial growers..which was a natural outgrowth of Gina and I organizing the conference together.  In many ways I believe that the line between backyard and commercial growers is not as stark as you might think. I know from reading applications for membership to this community that a large percentage of backyard people get into this with the aspiration that perhaps in the future they will "go commercial." A home based operation is a way to get their feet wet, so to speak.  Even when we conducted the survey around the conference and asked people if they were more interested in backyard topics, commercial topics, or both, most selected "both".  So given David's points about strength in larger numbers and "muster all the forces under one tent", plus the reality of initial leadership being on both sides of the equation, and that there really isn't a huge gap in the interests of the two I strongly believe that this organization should at least start as one big family (I need Chi Ma's emoticon image in here!).

OK...time for coffee!

Absolutely not Paul.... I merely meant that customers should be able to buy a product that has been given the tick of approval by the "association"... for their own piece of mind...


And I was talking about kits, and/or components.... the average "backyard" customer.... not the type of client you would typically cater for...

Earthan Group said:

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..

So seems to me as the weighted votes, a commercial grower should only have the number of votes relative to the number of people really involved in their commercial operation.  For me, I would probably only start off as one vote since my operation is small but as an operation grows and hires more employees they could pay the dues.

David Waite said:

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.


Not at all David... if anyone's feeling "slighted"... it's due to the fact that nobody in Australia was aware that the proposed association was to be "international" in flavour...

And considering that Murray has been intimately involved... and runs a major aquaponics forum in Australia... that has been even more surprising to many.. that he never mentioned it..

There is also one protagonist that has been stirring the pot with regards to the issue, and attempting (falsely) to portray both a rift between the two forums and or a "conspiraracy of silence on the behalf of Joel Malcolm and BYAP...

The truth is.. despite Joel's involvement in the development of aquaponics in Australia, and the fact that the BYAP forum is the oldest, largest, and most internationally membershipped forum ... in the world.... neither Joel, or anyone at BYAP (or Murray's forum for that matter)... had any indication that the proposed association was to be anything more than a US Association.. or had been approached for any involvment




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.

Why??... why should suppliers have a role or voting rights equal to that of a grower.. and greater than a backyard grower... this is an association for aquaponicists... not for suppliers or "industry"...

They have the opportunity to join as ordinary members if they wish to input as a member...

I can understand where Gina is coming from.  If Green Acre Organics signs up, but only gets one vote, then either Gina or Tonya gets no vote.  But why have a commercial classification to start with?  Why have GAO sign up as a unit rather than Gina and Tonya sign up as individuals?  Aside from super member status, what benefit will a commercial grower accrue from the more expensive dues?


I have two brothers, one a member here.  We'll all be working on the aquaponics, and in the long term expect to go commercial with it.  Why would we pay $245 for a commercial membership when we could pay $135 for 3 individual memberships?  And if we ended up with a 4th member, then 4 memberships would be $180. 


Would the association be assisting with legal issues?  Organic certification?  What's the vision?

Why don't you articulate an argument rather than making a personal attack?

Rob Nash said:
the only problem I see so far is Rupert's lack of life away from the computer. go harvest some fish for crying out loud!  you may need to start your own assholeciation, where you and others can complain all day about what every one is doing.
What's the difference between growers, gardeners and farmers? How do these more mature associations handle this and why? What true functions do these organizations perform and how do they actually help their members?

I believe we need do need to form an association as an as idealistic independent entity, formed much like The Constitution of our forefathers: for what reason does this entity serve but to serve it's members by providing knowledge, wisdom and defense against all threats foreign and domestic?

As far as being international…what a joke people. All this spittle wasted over misplaced ego. Grow up will ya! Why can't we, as a group (of friends), come together and simply dream. Write down this dream and we each form our own grassroots movement in our respective countries under this same ideal...kinda like the YMCA (idea without franchise part). Purely no profit intuitions of knowledge building and support.
Wholla! No more fruitin bickering!

We need to get together and pool our resources to be, “The Authority” on our portion of the sustainable train with AP supporting the pivotal point between gardening (urban) and agricultural (rural) food supply and by having the ability to self correct through continuous knowledge building, so no government or corporation can derail our ability to grow for ourselves and/or provide wholesome foods to others. That, in my opinion is a worthy institution.

Sadly, most are scams of disguised self-marketing. Case in point. A certain Mr. Yan is the founder and operator of the entire Greenroof association including the national association, the Beijing, the Shanghai Greenroof association and a few others I believe. Anyway the point is, that he refers to only certain firms, which he apparently has no vested interest in until you find out that these companies are actually run and own by his son in-laws. I’m sure every one of you can tell me stories of useless, waste of time and money or unscrupulous associations.

Let us be of one mind to preserve our god given right to feed ourselves in the most wholesome, holistic way possible and give our offspring a future instead of serfdom.
Lets put away greed and pride and simply do what needs doing for a better future for all!

But then again, maybe I’m just naive.
Ditto Chris.  Let's not sink to personal attacks, folks.  We are all good people here just trying to do the best we know how for aquaponics.

OK, I will put my 2 cents in. I tried to word this properly as to not offend anyone :)


First, I don't see mudslinging between Australians...I see people that want to be heard if they are going to be represented by an association. There is nothing personal here.


I think that any association that is going to represent the aquaponics community to the entire world needs to be centrally focused on developing HACCP protocol and methodology. I also don’t think there should be membership dues at this infinite stage. The focus should be around scientific research to prove the safety/quality of the food vs promotion of aquaponics as a methodology at conferences etc. Any projects that need money (bacterial tests, nutrient break down of effluent at determined feed rate etc) should be voted on by the members and then money should be raised until that goal is met. The board would facilitate the tests and provide results. The goal should be to prove the sustainability/profitability of the technology and not simply to show that it can be done.


I think that before you try to make “the big push” to the international public and say how perfectly safe the food is and how great the technology is in political arenas… on an international level, we need to have some science/facts behind what we are saying with proper protocol developed to ensure food safety at a commercial level. This includes examples of profitable aquaponic farms making money FARMING. No bank wants to hear about how it works, they want to see someone else that’s done it and made a profit. That leads back to getting farmers interested in investing in retrofitting their farms. The old “Well, no one has reported anything yet” or “Well, things in my system work great” just wont cut it when you try to make this a preferred method of farming. I can tell you this first hand from talking to thousands of farmers interested in aquaponics who want to know what it will take to turn a profit and helping hundreds of aquaponics enthusiasts designing new systems on small to commercial scale farms around the US, Australia, Latin America, Africa and Europe.


If there are intentions to lobby the goverment…there is no need. If you cant get farmers interested in the first place and show profitability no one is going to care. And lets face it, thought the forums have hundreds of people and farms are popping up here and there…when you look at the amount of farmers in the world we are still a needle in the hay field. Now take a look at the number of profitable aquaponic farms…yeah.


I see the progression being research, Standards/HACCP development, proof of profitability, then promotion.  


What I wouldn’t want to see is a couple hundred people sign up to be members, and then watch the heads of the association fly around the world “promoting aquaponics” on the dues raised (No dig here, just a valid concern). It could set the whole movement back. If I did donate money, I would want to know what the plans were for my money before I donated it to the association and that every unspent cent spent was voted on. I know that the conference is coming but these aren’t the kinds of things that are drawn up in a week or two, it usually takes quite a long time to write up all of the documents and it just feels rushed. I don’t feel the need to hurry at this point.


The consumer drives the demand for certification which I believe this association would eventually lead to. Take organic for example…It took a lot of science/years for people to pick up on the fact that organic grown vegetables are better for you. The evidence starts slowly making its way to the public and over the next few years people start buying more organic and the price goes up. Next companies start calling their produce organic when it is not and the consumer DEMANDS that protocol be developed for labeling products organic. Next the government/organizations come up with HACCP and you have certified organic labels.   


No one knows what aquaponics even is, let alone are they looking for an aquaponics association membership before buying the produce. Ive got to know the money is going to something that is going to help me and not just blindly give and hope.


I will be part of the aquaponics community for many years to come and maybe one day this will seem right but with all due respect I just cant say that I am on board at this point.

All valid points, however, I have to wonder if simple me living in a grass hut on the beach running around half dressed is of sound mind.


I mean The Bahamas is considered to be a "THIRD WORLD COUNTRY" yet I could see beyond our shores as to the benefits of an International Association.


And honestly I probably have to take the blame for planting the seed of an "International Association", I do not profess to be as well versed as a lot of the members here, yet before Christopher Columbus discovered the "New World" it was thought to be flat and anyone venturing beyond a certain point would fall off.


So I am perplexed why the "ho ha" about this one or that one, its a fact that there is strength in numbers, and somebody had to get it started and somebody had to have a vision, what difference does it make who that somebody was, are we not all aquaponic enthusiast, do we not all want to promote aquaponics for the betterment of all. or am I missing something.


Please enlighten a simple 3rd world man who wanted to see what was beyond the shores!


Chris Cates said:

Why don't you articulate an argument rather than making a personal attack?

Rob Nash said:
the only problem I see so far is Rupert's lack of life away from the computer. go harvest some fish for crying out loud!  you may need to start your own assholeciation, where you and others can complain all day about what every one is doing.

Perhaps Rob... you should look to my first post...


I'm not opposed to an "international" association as such, and the proposed "fees" don't concern me either....
And I do commend the people involved and the work they have put into the idea...


If I've been prominent in this discussion.. it's because it's only just come to life here in Australia in the last couple of days...

If the proposed association was only an "American" association... I probably wouldn't be commenting.. and just saying go for your life guys and gals...


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