Aquaponic Gardening

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I'm a journalism student at the University of Sheffield and for the past few days have been trying frantically to get more information about aquaponics, it's statistics, it's feasibility etc.

 

If there's anyone who can spare me a few minutes to answer my questions, let me know. I will be very very grateful.

Is there anyone from Sheffield on this website, who has their own aquaponics set-up and who'd let me film it?

 

I'll be waiting for responses very eagerly.

 

Thank you all 

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Where is the University of Sheffield?
It's in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK :-)
I've not heard of anyone right in Sheffield but between here and Backyard Aquaponics I know there are at least a few people in England and Wales with aquaponics systems.  You might need to travel just a little more to find one you can film.  Hopefully you can manage a day trip with your crew.
If you go to the Members page and search on United Kingdom you will get 4 people who show up - http://aquaponicscommunity.com/profiles/members/?q=United+Kingdom.  This isn't the complete list because Charlie Price of Aquaponics UK isn't on the list (Ning isn't great with it's search capabilities) but it is a start!  You might also want to start a forum topic titled something like "Anyone near Sheffield, England?" that might catch someone's eye.  Good luck!

Thanks sylvia :-) Is this Charlie from Stirling University? I have contacted a person named Charlie at aquaponics UK but haven't heard ack from him. I am also filming an aquaponics farm in Nottingham. Just hoping to find someone near as well because this time I won't have a crew as it's an individual project.

 

Also could you suggest me any ways of finding statistical info about aquaponics? My tutor is fine with the idea of a film about aquaponics but is not convinced it's worthwhile to do at the moment...I mean is there anything new happening in the field at the moment, any big grant that the project has received or simply a question like when it is such a sustainable source of food, why is it not so common in UK yet?

for a little inspiration, go here: http://www.friendlyaquaponics.com/ and watch the video.  

Aquaponics is only as worthwhile as the individual project.  What I mean to say  is there are no "cut and dried" plans that can guarantee any business will be profitable and organic farming or aquaponics is no exception.  There are some businesses out there doing it and successfully (unfortunately most of those are so busy that we are not hearing much about it here on the internet as they don't have time to hang out at the computer all day) but there are a few.  Most of them in warmer climates or where locally grown produce is profitable enough to offset the costs of growing in greenhouses or indoors.  The UK has a somewhat cooler climate which I'm sure has affected the rate at which aquaponics has caught on since most people are going to need a greenhouse for it.  (Though where freezing temperatures and snow don't happen, outdoor aquaponics can be done.)

 

As far as being worthwhile on a "home/backyard scale" well Backyard Aquaponics has done a calculation at one point that their systems can pay for themselves based on buying organic foods at the store in two years.  Of course how accurate this is will depend a bit on the family's buying habits and if they keep up with planting and using what they grow.  There is a really difficult variable to quantify and that is eating very fresh locally grown food that isn't sprayed with any toxic pesticides plus the great feeling of wellbeing and empowerment of eating meals one grows themselves.  There is also the point about food security in a changing world and how growing food at home offers women and children in low income situations far better nutrition that they might otherwise manage.

Much of this doesn't necessarily require aquaponics but I'm an incredibly lazy gardener and the much automated nature of aquaponics does make it rather easy to grow large amounts of food with very minimal ongoing labor/maintenance.

 

Is it worthwhile, a matter of opinion, to some people growing any food isn't worthwhile since it's so easy to just buy it at the supermarket.

 

Richa B Kulkarni said:

Also could you suggest me any ways of finding statistical info about aquaponics? My tutor is fine with the idea of a film about aquaponics but is not convinced it's worthwhile to do at the moment...I mean is there anything new happening in the field at the moment, any big grant that the project has received or simply a question like when it is such a sustainable source of food, why is it not so common in UK yet?

Thank you soo much. I am really so greateful that you took time to write a detailed reply. Fair enough...I think it really does depend on personal choices, unfortunately my tutor needs to see facts. I've been trying desperately to find some facts and current news that I can build by film on, I guess the search has quite a long way to go still.

 

I'll keep you updated with any progress I make. For starters, I'll be visiting an aquaponics farm in Nottingham where it's quite popular among the community and many people buy food from there.

 

You've said in your response that growing food at home offers better nutrition to people with a low income, but then is the set-up affordable? Is the initial investment affordable to all?
TCLynx said:

Aquaponics is only as worthwhile as the individual project.  What I mean to say  is there are no "cut and dried" plans that can guarantee any business will be profitable and organic farming or aquaponics is no exception.  There are some businesses out there doing it and successfully (unfortunately most of those are so busy that we are not hearing much about it here on the internet as they don't have time to hang out at the computer all day) but there are a few.  Most of them in warmer climates or where locally grown produce is profitable enough to offset the costs of growing in greenhouses or indoors.  The UK has a somewhat cooler climate which I'm sure has affected the rate at which aquaponics has caught on since most people are going to need a greenhouse for it.  (Though where freezing temperatures and snow don't happen, outdoor aquaponics can be done.)

 

As far as being worthwhile on a "home/backyard scale" well Backyard Aquaponics has done a calculation at one point that their systems can pay for themselves based on buying organic foods at the store in two years.  Of course how accurate this is will depend a bit on the family's buying habits and if they keep up with planting and using what they grow.  There is a really difficult variable to quantify and that is eating very fresh locally grown food that isn't sprayed with any toxic pesticides plus the great feeling of wellbeing and empowerment of eating meals one grows themselves.  There is also the point about food security in a changing world and how growing food at home offers women and children in low income situations far better nutrition that they might otherwise manage.

Much of this doesn't necessarily require aquaponics but I'm an incredibly lazy gardener and the much automated nature of aquaponics does make it rather easy to grow large amounts of food with very minimal ongoing labor/maintenance.

 

Is it worthwhile, a matter of opinion, to some people growing any food isn't worthwhile since it's so easy to just buy it at the supermarket.

 

Richa B Kulkarni said:

Also could you suggest me any ways of finding statistical info about aquaponics? My tutor is fine with the idea of a film about aquaponics but is not convinced it's worthwhile to do at the moment...I mean is there anything new happening in the field at the moment, any big grant that the project has received or simply a question like when it is such a sustainable source of food, why is it not so common in UK yet?

Thank you soo much :-) it is indeed inspiring!



Averan said:

for a little inspiration, go here: http://www.friendlyaquaponics.com/ and watch the video.  

There is of course some initial investment in an aquaponics system and the need for electricity so it isn't free.  I must admit that it is unlikely that many low income situations are going to lend themselves to getting people to invest in aquaponics when they would rather a new entertainment system or cell phone. 

Nice tidy kit systems can be rather $$$ but some one who is handy and can scrounge materials could manage an aquaponics system on a modest budget.

 

If some one is so poor that they can't manage a pump or electricity, then they may be better off looking at wicking bed methods for growing veggies and liquid gold as fertilizer and composting to grow food.  This could be anywhere from the size of a little window planter made from trash materials for an apartment to lined ground beds using whatever plastic or tarp material can be scrounged if you need "free" ways to grow food.

 

Friendlies systems are fairly budget friendly if raft systems are appropriate to the situation.

 

Travis Hughey's Barrel Ponics systems are a good choice for learning how to build a small system on a budget.

 

In some places "food deserts" inner cities where the only foods available in walking distance are fast foods and junk foods and little to no fresh produce gets to those areas, growing some of their own is about the only way to get some fresh foods and a better balanced diet.

 

Look up Growing Power for more about not just aquaponics but growing food for low income food desert areas.

Raised bed or "Squarefoot Gardening" is often more economically reasonable for growing at home in small spaces.  I started my tiny AP system in March of this year, at the same time I was planting my earliest crops outdoors.  I used my AP system to start seedlings, which worked GREAT.  It took a while for my system to "cycle up," and I only recently got a grow light set up.  So I can't honestly compare the productivity of my AP system vs. my raised beds yet.  But I'm already eating spinach, peas, and lettuce from my raised beds, and nothing yet from my AP system.  We'll see if the AP system catches up.

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