I'm passionate about pursuing a career in a field that relates to sustainability. Right now I work in energy efficiency, but I love working with my hands, and farming really appeals to that. When I discovered aquaponics, it seemed like a great way to integrate farming and sustainability. Of course, water use is the main sustainability advantage over traditional farming/aquaculture. I believe that water scarcity will become a serious issue in New England in the near to mid-future. Already we see towns in suburban Massachusetts with annual water bans. Climate change will likely excacerbate this problem. As a result, I see a great opportunity for aquaponics here. I also like the fact that aquaponics can be done on a smaller footprint, closer to urban areas than traditional farming. With land prices in suburban New England some of the highest in the country, this appears to offer a less expensive way into growing than traditional farming. I also think that if we want to really scale up regional/local food production, we'll need to do it on a reduced footprint to due 1) land availability near markets and 2) need for forest preservation.
Right now I'm working at the hobby level, and I'm trying to decide if a commercial career is right for me. The energy efficiency work I do is very rewarding, and I may end up doing aquaponics on the side. But a career in aquaponics could be in the works, too. I've been experimenting for two years now. I've had lots of success with a variety of plants, but haven't tried food fish yet. That's next!
Indoors, I have two 55-gallon fish tanks with growbeds above them (10 sq ft of growing space). One growbed has expanded clay another expanded shale. I previoulsy did one 55-gallon tank with 15 sq ft of growbed which worked well. My fish have grown, and I've added another tank, but I haven't yet added more growbed. I also have an outdoor system I run in the summer. It has a 160 gallon tank and about 80 gallons of growbed. Next year I plan to add on another 80 gallons of growbed to make it a 1:1 ratio. I've got a blog with pictures at: http://alifeaquaponic.blogspot.com/
What inspires me....I like raising tropical fish just to look at and tilapia are even bigger and I can have more of them than in a tank in the house. I like growing things, gardening, etc building my own projects. Aquaponics uses less space to produce more food than food produced using conventional methods and also reduces water used for irrigation by 90%. One person requires only 25 sq ft in an aquaponics greenhouse grow bed space to provide that person with enough vegetables, berries, fruits, beans for infinity when managed properly AND you can harvest the fish to eat. Being able to raise fresh produce and fish in your back yard, not having to make so many trips to the store and saving money are the main reasons I see people getting into aquaponics. People give all kinds of reasons why they do it.
What inspires me is that I grew up with a father who was a devout gardener... when I got old enough to be on my own and move out, I guess that's when I also got a bit wiser... I would go visit my Mom and Dad and my Mom would tell me that Dad was out in the garden. We grew up with at least an acre of garden. After us kids moved out, the garden never got an smaller. Well, as I got older and got tired of corporate BS, I found that I treasured my time away from the crowds and such... I finally got what my Dad meant about gardening. He taught me how to grow things in dirt but what took me years to learn was " It's a great way to relieve stress". My Dad would be out in his garden on his hands and knees weeding with his glass of Bicardi and coke. All I had to do was find what row he was in and look for the glass marks in the dirt to find him. I have raised beds for gardens and I wanted something to do over the sometimes long N.E. winters so I started researching Aquaponics as an indoor treat to myself and my family. My wife cooks Tilapia and I just love the way she does it. We both want to eat better and know where our food is coming from so aquaponics seems to work for me. I am now 57 years old with a 5 year old boy... I think I've finally got it after all these years...I've got a stress free pastime. I get to eat fresh veggies and hopefully fish, as soon as I stock the FT, and I past down all this info to my son. This year my son and I will take an old cover-it and turn it into a greenhouse and set up a seasonal tank. I was hoping to start fish indoors and transport them to an outdoor heated greenhouse. I presently have 1-150 gal FT pumping up to 2-40 gal grow beds with hydrocorn in them. They each have an auto syphon that drains back to my FT. I know I should have more growbed but no room. I presently in the process of building a clarifier to help filter out solids. I would love to see other setups as well as show mine. We call ours "Kenny's Victory Garden". My son can't wait to go fishing in the FT. Take care everyone and hope to talk soon...Bye