Aquaponic Gardening

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Today we had one of our free farm tours which we offer on the first Saturday of every month.  It was a typical tour with people coming because they are interested in Aquaponics and what we do.  Some were brand new to AP like the one gentleman that hadn't heard of it until 3 weeks ago and now has watched every video on YouTube he can find, including ours.  I was not surprised that he is now completely enthralled and has also signed up for our next Micro System Training.  Then there was the author from Ocala, with two books published about Florida and the latest one actually has a chapter on aquaponics. 

The tour began the usual way. I talked about why we became commercial aquaponic farmers and the importance of eating organic and clean foods.  We also share our vision to help relocalize our food supply while combatting the centralization and the loss of our food soveringty to corporate ag giants like Monsanto.  The response is almost always the same.  One only need mention the name Monsanto and it is met with utter disgust. The tour progresses and I soon begin to explain the system and how it works.  I love the shock on visitor's faces when I point out our tiny magnetic drive pump that pulls 120 watts and is the only electrical consumption to move water in our system. Seeing is believing, but it is almost to unbelievable to some. 

Now that I have covered the system operation, and I am easily an hour into the tour, I talk a bit more about Aquaponics and food safety.   I almost always need a drink of water after talking non stop for an hour and coughed a touch as I had a tickle in my throat.  I continued to discuss how Aquaponically grown food is the safest way to grow food and that an enclosed Aquaponic system can not harbour the dangerous pathogens that cause e.coli and salmonella.  A system that is not impervious could possibly suffer the risk of contamination from a warm blooded mammal introducing a contaminant to the system.  

I cleared my throat once again and Tonya asked if I needed some water.  I said yes and she slipped a small glass underneath the return pipe from the troughs that pours into the first nursery tank and handed me the glass.  Without missing a beat, I said excuse me and drank it down.  All but one had watched Tonya fill the glass and now stood there with their mouths hanging open in disbelief.  One said, "You just drank the water?!" with enough confused inflection to be both a question and an exclamation at the same time.  The gentleman that had only learned of AP weeks ago had not been looking when Tonya filled the glass and was now questioning ernestly, "Where did you just get that from?  WHAT DID YOU JUST DO?!!!"  "I drank my aquaponic water," I grinned, "want some?" 

I have been threatening for months to drink the system water just as friend and mentor, Tim Mann from Friendly Aquaponics does.  Today, it transpired perfectly. Maybe it was the impromptu moment that made it so special or maybe because I finally just did it instead of talking about doing it.  How better to impress upon people the incredible safety of aquaponic systems and food?  Surely it is something they won't soon forget. They come and learn about aquaponics, see our farm, the beautiful abundant growth, the life teaming in the fish tank and watch their host drink the Aquaponic Kool-Aid and I must say; it tasted pretty darn good. However, just in case you are wondering, I feel just fine.

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Comment by Marisa Dawson on August 12, 2011 at 6:51am
Great story Gina!  My biggest worry is that when I bring my students over for a visit they will all want a drink of your AP kool-aid!  LOL
Comment by TCLynx on August 8, 2011 at 9:59am
in a good aquaponics system the only fishy smell is usually from the fish food itself, stands to reason the water wouldn't taste fishy either.
Comment by David Waite on August 8, 2011 at 9:37am
TC I have and do drink mine in demonstrations. Suprisingly the water has no fish tast and is fine. I have dived in harbors all over the world and drank much much worse. Hong kong harbor was the worst. Had to get a shot in the ass after that one..........
Comment by TCLynx on August 8, 2011 at 9:07am
Need some pointers David in order to do your own future demonstrations?
Comment by David Hart on August 8, 2011 at 9:02am
I'm comming to next month's tour to watch 'Tonya' drink it...
Comment by TCLynx on August 8, 2011 at 7:43am
It could become your weekly tour boost, when your throat gets dry during the tour.
Comment by Gina Cavaliero on August 7, 2011 at 11:51pm

What do you mean TC?  You shouldn't drink from a garden hose? ;)  I don't think I would dunk a glass up several times a day just when I am thirsty but it is great for making a grand impression once in a while at tours.

And thanks David!

Comment by David Waite on August 7, 2011 at 11:19pm
Great story. Love it.
Comment by TCLynx on August 7, 2011 at 12:54pm

Truth is all water is recycled.  Only question is how closely are we able to look at the recycling?  Now in a heavily nutrient laden system, I probably wouldn't encourage drinking lots of the water, I would rather let plants and things strip more out of it before I drink too much but providing you are not heavily loading a system with possibly pathogenic bacterias from warm blooded animals, I do not expect drinking a glass of aquaponic water to be any worse than drinking some water from a stream, lake, or pond.  Actually, the aquaponic water in my eyes is probably better than drinking most city drinking water since the aquaponic water probably doesn't have the chlorine, chloramine or fluoride in it.  It's less dangerous than drinking from the garden hose which I know most people over 30 have survived doing that sometime in their childhood.

Comment by Carey Ma on August 7, 2011 at 12:13am

Ewe.. even though I know it is safe, I believe you are braver than I am. I could never think of drinking fishy water without running it through a carbon filter. Thumbs up to you my friend.

PS I posted a smidgen about how to grow even more with "verticle growing".



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