Aquaponic Gardening

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The Future of Food and Farming

I'd like to start a discussion about this executive summary.  What are your thoughts?  How can aquaponics play a role?

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Interesting...Why Hawaii and nor Florida? Why not US Virgin Islands or Texas?

 

Your first part of the discussion is valid and meaningful. The location has no relevance to the drafting of any "Generally Accepted Aquaponic Standards". I am of the opinion that this is one of the most important discussion topics on this Aquaponic Gardening Forum...so a humble request, let's please stick to the subject matter. 

 


nathaniel taylor said:

A very interesting discussion. A certification would be good for farms wanting to install consumer trust... but that might lead to all sorts of problems as we have all stated.

Might I suggest we start drafting a proposal of what this might look like and 'all' begin to weigh in. Maybe by the National 'meet and greet' in Hawaii not Florida, we could all join hands and in a collective sigh of relief admit none of us want 'nannies' and we can all go along 'experimenting', adding to this idea, laying a great foundation for future generations to emulate and protecting us all from the corporate evil lords that would love to own it all and tell us how to live our lives.


Sylvia Bernstein said:

I don't think this would need to spell the end of anyone's fun (except maybe Chi ) because no one would ever be forced to join such an association.  If you do join, and you become certified under the associations standards, then you can enjoy whatever credibility that brings along with the benefits of being marketed under the Aquaponics Association umbrella - perhaps the availability of brochures for purchase so you can hand them out at tours, a website listing of member aquaponics farms, trade advertising, and perhaps even eventually advocacy.  The model I would look at is the Progressive Gardening Trade Association (PGTA) which is an association of hydroponic retailers.  They hold an annual conference (I've been a keynote speaker in the past, and am speaking this year in Denver as well), have media kits, are developing resource kits, including presentations that members can give (click here), a section for non-trade folks.  They are all about promoting progressive gardening retailers...which has evolved to mean hydroponics stores.

 

Check it out and let me know what you think...

Not to get off track but you may find this interesting.

 

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2011/20110209_aquaculture.html

 

The Department of Commerce and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today released complementary draft national aquaculture policies that support sustainable marine aquaculture to increase the U.S. supply of healthy seafood, create jobs in coastal and other communities, spur innovation in technology, and help restore depleted species and marine habitats.

and... http://aquaculture.noaa.gov/funding/welcome.html

 

Before we get all tangled up in meeting venues and travel plans, I think it may be useful for people to take a step back and see what has been published in related industries already.  This will guide discussions and prevent people needlessly re-inventing the wheel.  As I said before, I think that much of what will develop in AP quality management will revolve around HACCP and ISO environmental management regs.  In aquaculture, these have been moulded into Best Practice guidelines, of which I have a few.  Hydroponics should also have developed a set of guidelines by now, thus I potentially time-saving exercise would be to carve up the hydroponic and aquaculture best practice docs and to come up with a set of suggestions that can be debated.

 

As for the venue, I think in this modern age it is not all that important.  Have internet and Skype, can participate in duscussion.  Does not have to be face to face all the time, although such a meeting will be very useful at some point.

 


Sahib Punjabi said:

Interesting...Why Hawaii and nor Florida? Why not US Virgin Islands or Texas?

 

Your first part of the discussion is valid and meaningful. The location has no relevance to the drafting of any "Generally Accepted Aquaponic Standards". I am of the opinion that this is one of the most important discussion topics on this Aquaponic Gardening Forum...so a humble request, let's please stick to the subject matter. 

 


nathaniel taylor said:

A very interesting discussion. A certification would be good for farms wanting to install consumer trust... but that might lead to all sorts of problems as we have all stated.

Might I suggest we start drafting a proposal of what this might look like and 'all' begin to weigh in. Maybe by the National 'meet and greet' in Hawaii not Florida, we could all join hands and in a collective sigh of relief admit none of us want 'nannies' and we can all go along 'experimenting', adding to this idea, laying a great foundation for future generations to emulate and protecting us all from the corporate evil lords that would love to own it all and tell us how to live our lives.


Sylvia Bernstein said:

I don't think this would need to spell the end of anyone's fun (except maybe Chi ) because no one would ever be forced to join such an association.  If you do join, and you become certified under the associations standards, then you can enjoy whatever credibility that brings along with the benefits of being marketed under the Aquaponics Association umbrella - perhaps the availability of brochures for purchase so you can hand them out at tours, a website listing of member aquaponics farms, trade advertising, and perhaps even eventually advocacy.  The model I would look at is the Progressive Gardening Trade Association (PGTA) which is an association of hydroponic retailers.  They hold an annual conference (I've been a keynote speaker in the past, and am speaking this year in Denver as well), have media kits, are developing resource kits, including presentations that members can give (click here), a section for non-trade folks.  They are all about promoting progressive gardening retailers...which has evolved to mean hydroponics stores.

 

Check it out and let me know what you think...

Nathaniel thank you for sharing these links. I now follow what you meant by "National 'meet & greet' "as I knew of such Aquaponic meeting.

 

Very Interesting articles...will take a while to read. Thank you.

 

God bless,

 

nathaniel taylor said:

Not to get off track but you may find this interesting.

 

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2011/20110209_aquaculture.html

 

The Department of Commerce and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today released complementary draft national aquaculture policies that support sustainable marine aquaculture to increase the U.S. supply of healthy seafood, create jobs in coastal and other communities, spur innovation in technology, and help restore depleted species and marine habitats.

and... http://aquaculture.noaa.gov/funding/welcome.html

 

Agreed :-)

 

As regards "Venue", I am on the same page as you  in that "As for the venue, I think in this modern age it is not all that important.  Have internet and Skype, can participate in duscussion.  Does not have to be face to face all the time"

 

That is exactly what I meant in an earlier post on this discussion "I was suggesting a 1 full day conference that would be repeatable (with changes made for updates as required), and held Bi-monthly in different regions using all the latest technology (video conferencing and internet/web participation), is so that we could spread the message to as many people as possible, have local schools and universities involved, experience different climate / growing zones etc..etc. You do not physically have to be present at each event as you should be able to participate via the internet & video." 

 

We were fortunate to have this technology in Dec 2009 when our Daughter got married in Central Florida and as is usually the case, many of our friends and family living around the world were unable to physically attend...but they were there thanks to being able to participate via Audio - Video link...so they all witnessed her marriage whether they were in different parts of USA or overseas in UK, India, Middle East, Australia and elsewhere. We should make use of all such tools to keep down the expense of such meetings as well as encourage a greater and more diverse participation :-)

 

God bless,



Kobus Jooste said:

Before we get all tangled up in meeting venues and travel plans, I think it may be useful for people to take a step back and see what has been published in related industries already.  This will guide discussions and prevent people needlessly re-inventing the wheel.  As I said before, I think that much of what will develop in AP quality management will revolve around HACCP and ISO environmental management regs.  In aquaculture, these have been moulded into Best Practice guidelines, of which I have a few.  Hydroponics should also have developed a set of guidelines by now, thus I potentially time-saving exercise would be to carve up the hydroponic and aquaculture best practice docs and to come up with a set of suggestions that can be debated.

 

As for the venue, I think in this modern age it is not all that important.  Have internet and Skype, can participate in duscussion.  Does not have to be face to face all the time, although such a meeting will be very useful at some point.


 

 


Sahib Punjabi said:

 

Interesting...Why Hawaii and nor Florida? Why not US Virgin Islands or Texas?

 

Your first part of the discussion is valid and meaningful. The location has no relevance to the drafting of any "Generally Accepted Aquaponic Standards". I am of the opinion that this is one of the most important discussion topics on this Aquaponic Gardening Forum...so a humble request, let's please stick to the subject matter. 

 


nathaniel taylor said:

A very interesting discussion. A certification would be good for farms wanting to install consumer trust... but that might lead to all sorts of problems as we have all stated.

Might I suggest we start drafting a proposal of what this might look like and 'all' begin to weigh in. Maybe by the National 'meet and greet' in Hawaii not Florida, we could all join hands and in a collective sigh of relief admit none of us want 'nannies' and we can all go along 'experimenting', adding to this idea, laying a great foundation for future generations to emulate and protecting us all from the corporate evil lords that would love to own it all and tell us how to live our lives.


Sylvia Bernstein said:

I don't think this would need to spell the end of anyone's fun (except maybe Chi ) because no one would ever be forced to join such an association.  If you do join, and you become certified under the associations standards, then you can enjoy whatever credibility that brings along with the benefits of being marketed under the Aquaponics Association umbrella - perhaps the availability of brochures for purchase so you can hand them out at tours, a website listing of member aquaponics farms, trade advertising, and perhaps even eventually advocacy.  The model I would look at is the Progressive Gardening Trade Association (PGTA) which is an association of hydroponic retailers.  They hold an annual conference (I've been a keynote speaker in the past, and am speaking this year in Denver as well), have media kits, are developing resource kits, including presentations that members can give (click here), a section for non-trade folks.  They are all about promoting progressive gardening retailers...which has evolved to mean hydroponics stores.

 

Check it out and let me know what you think...

The November/December issue of Ode Magazine has an excellent article called "A New Food Manifesto."  http://www.odemagazine.com/doc/74/new-food-manifesto/  Carolyn Steel is an architect and the author of Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives.
Thank you for sharing...good read & great info :-)

Rebecca Branham said:
The November/December issue of Ode Magazine has an excellent article called "A New Food Manifesto."  http://www.odemagazine.com/doc/74/new-food-manifesto/  Carolyn Steel is an architect and the author of Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives.

  I'll admit to being new here.  I am NOT new to the realm of farming, farmer's markets and struggling as a farmer to making a living.  Not riches mind you.  A living.

    Wow!  Bells of alarm were resounding in my head when I started reading this thread....Any kind of standards and certifications spell one thing: cost to those who want to "play".  I am talking about new aquapons. 

     As a farmer, I can tell you that I am in contact with many in the small farms movement out in my region.  We all strive to grow healthful crops.  Most of us employ earth-responsible organic methods on our farms.  We , and most around us are NOT Organic Certified though because it is too expensive to do so as a small farmer, and then we would have to pass on the cost of certification to our local customers.  There would go the noble move to supply organically grown foods to our communities that is affordable.  So the local small farmer is at a disadvantage when trying to break out and expand a bit past the locals (who know our farming practices and trust us to provide what we say we are - and can show them.), because we cannot afford the Label that states we are "organic" because regulations prohibit this use unless we have paid for the verification process annually.  There is a LOT I could write about why it is this way...but for now I will move on to apply this to aquaponics:

 

      I am in the camp of spread the word about aquaponics.  Help people feed themselves.  I also see that aquaponics can be away to help families get past the subsistence stage and actually make a living with this...So why go and move the carrot further out of reach?  With certification comes more cost.  I completely disagree with the statement that says, 'Unfortuantely this is necesary....'   It is NOT necessary.  Why not spread the word about aquaponcis and let people not only feed themselves , but have a way they can help themselves economically,.   and not create more hoops in life to jump through.  If this goes through with standards and certifications I feel there should be a hoola-hoop issued with the certification paper, as a trophy. 

 

    A group to promote aquaponics does not need to evolve into a group that issues standards and certifications  as well.  I am saddened by this thought. As a farmer who works with local farmers who strive for excellence,  I can honestly say we really do not need another venue that claims to have the answer to feed the poor and help people help themselves, yet put standards and regulations as a mound in the road that will only keep this from happening.   

   Off my soap box for now.  Time to get out and do some real farm work.

 

Sincerely,

Converse

Amen to your thoughts and the way that you expressed them.  If you wish to add the certification to your food go for it but don't make it a requirement.  Just look at what we have already with the ag dept and their safe practices.  Leave the little guy alone and spread the word by mouth on sites like this.  Your customers will get to know the value and freshness of the product.  Maybe you can't sell to the big box store so what!  Work your niche and keep down the expense and regs.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Converse.  It reminds me much of some of those expressed at the very beginning of this discussion.  I still find it interesting that this conversation that has revolved around a voluntary certification process and an adoption of  best practices standards for the growing commercial aquaponics industry continually evolves back to some kind of effect on those involved in backyard systems or for new aquapons.  For the exact reasons mentioned above, exhorbitant costs for organic certification which are beyond the reach of small farms are one of the mindful reasons for creating an internal aquaponic certification agency.  By aquapons, for aquapons.  One such association developed as a not for profit, can undoubtedly help absorb costs associated with certification and create a less costly process for the aquaponic farmer.  Along with this certification comes a marketing initiative, educating the consumer about the benefits of aquaponically grown food.  Absolutely the word should continue to be spread by those on sites like this.  It is an incredibly informative tool for those who frequent, however it is limited by just that and unfortunately the vast majority of those are primarily just aquapons!  The point is to educate those that don't know about aquaponics, that don't frequent sites like this; the average consumer who has little to no real knowledge of where there food comes from outside of the grocery store.

 

Also, if we consider the origination of this discussion, it was about the future of food and farming and if aquaponics could have an impact on that.  We were talking about the big picture, not just the advantage of getting an O cert to sell to big box stores, but adopting safe aqricultural aquaponic practices as this fledgling industry grows.  It is undeniable that this very thing is happening.  In our little corner of the world alone, six more commercial farms will be joining us within the next year.  It is our hope that this trend continues not only here but elsewhere and a huge part of the reason we strive to inspire others and then offer to teach them how to do it.  Why shouldn't those new commercial aquapons have an easily accessible resouce with information such as NSF system componentry or guidelines for food safefty as it relates to aquaponics and more? 

 

There is so much concentration on and fear about this association invariably transcending into some overbearing, regulatory agency that is going to dictate how to do aquaponics.  That is not at all the intention and vision of the folks engaged in supporting and creating this certification movement.  With voluntary participation will come many advantages and the ability to further commercial aquaponics in a world where drastically better food production practices are desperately needed. 

 

Raychel, I am in full agreement that we all should continually spread the aquaponic word and encourage backyard installations in absolute recognition of the value and need for food independence and soveriegnty.  Every backyard and home should have a system, however realistically that isn't the case.  Until that happens or really if that happens,  why not help those wanting to grow commercially and be a part of the solution in growing food for others have a support system and a agency that can help educate consumers but also validate the growing methods and help build that trust for the consumer in a greater, farther reaching capacity.  Our hope is that the kinship and collaboration we experience in this aquaponic community is the very same theme that will pervade this association and will become more of a collective, grass roots type organization rather than a corporate, humanless enitity spewing and imposing senseless regulation.  We are not the government or the USDA!  We are aquaponic farmers hoping to feed the future with an aquaponic farm revolution. 

My Best,

Gina Cavaliero

Green Acre Organics

 

 

 

I do want safe food practices.  These should be taught by the people teaching aquaponics to other people.  I know you think that certification is a good thing but it is only as good as the people running the farm.  We have all these safety rules here about resturants but no one to inspect them.  The public just thinks the gov is on the job but they are not.  When they do get around to the inspections ie every 3 years or more they find rats in the kitchen.  The news plays it up big and we get down on that resturant for awhile.  The gov goes on to the next inspection and the rats return to the kitchen.  We have to help people understand food safety so they can impliment it not be under order to do it.

One prime example of rules run amuck took place last year in Hawaii and I still marvel at it.  The "Outdoor Circle" has kept billboards out of the state which is a good thing but because they are into "all things beautiful" last year they asked the legislature to write a bill to not allow the OSCAR MEYER Winnermobile to come to Hawaii again.  You know why because they have that 1 ft sign on the side that says OSCAR MEYER.  No other reason they are a moving billboard.  Nevermind the good and joy they bring to children.  Yet it is ok for the BUDWISER truck to have their entire truck painted with their advertisement. 

Maybe you think I don't make sense but I have lived long enough to see how a good idea can turn into a really bad thing if not totally thought out.  We need to self police ourselves and share with others when we see practices that are not good.  For instance we just had an aquaponics meetup at my house and Glen saw that I had used a couple of pieces of electrical conduit.  He shared with me not" fined "me that the conduit was not food safe and I ought to use pvc.  Now I am not selling to people at this point but I will eventually and I am teaching others how to build systems and I want to use safe practices and I want to correctly teach others so I will change that pipe.  I appreciate that kind of corection.  We as aquaponics people need to join together and self police ourselves so the gov does not have to get involved.

Another example I am in the health industry and work in a clinical laboratory.  We are regulated up to our ears.  We are inspected and have to keep records of everything we do.  We have to do proficency tests 3 times a year to prove we are running tests right.   After all lives are at statke and Drs treat people on the answers we put out.  This costs the labs a great deal of money which inturn goes to the patient.  On the other hand a Drs office lab run by untrained people can run many of the same tests with not regs no inspections and treat the patients on those results.  It is Who pays off who.  The big lobby co for Drs office have convinced the congress that this is ok.  Go figure.  I have to have a college degree to run the test.  They have to have maybe a high school ed with some on the job training.

Once set in motion these things become steam rollers and run over the good intention people.  I don't really want to argue with people I just say "slow down"  Let the industry get established before you start making all the rules

 

No worries Raychel!  Definetly not arguing here either!  Just great discussion!  :)

Obviously I am very much in favor and actually now working towards what we are ceating as a "voluntary" certification, and certainly not one that would order anyone to do anything or impose any kind of fines.  Again it would be a not for profit whose agenda is to help aquaponic farmers, a coalition, especially for those who make their living farming aquaponically.   But as I've said here before, I always welcome thoughts and passions like yours from the other side of the spectrum!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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