Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Below are excerpts from a recent email conversation.  They typify my experiences in trying to get people in authority in Brevard County, Florida, to accept and/or support Community Gardens in any form, over the last 3 years.


Note: Bill Gary is president of the The Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Cultural Complex, Inc.


from Greg
to Juanita Barton <>
date Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 12:51 PM
subject Aquaponic Community Garden Idea
Dear Juanita,

I sincerely appreciate your help and patients with me in presenting this idea to the Board of Moore Memorial Park Complex Center.

Upon seeing the new pond nearing completion in the Moore Memorial Park, I thought that it would be a very appropriate and socially beneficial thing to have
an Aquaponics System in the Park!

Aquaponics is the cultivation of fish and plants together in a constructed, re-circulating ecosystem utilizing natural bacterial cycles to convert fish wastes to plant nutrients.  This is an environmentally-friendly, natural food growing (aka "Organic") method that harnesses the best attributes of aquaculture (aka "Fish Farming") and hydroponics (growing plants without soil) without the need to discard any water or filtrate or add chemical fertilizers.

Since Mims is now a typical suburban community, but historically a rural agricultural one, Community Gardens and Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA), are things that are glaringly and inexcusably absent.  This is evident for instance, in the fact that Brevard County does not have a program for
Community Gardens in it's Parks the way some of it's neighbors like Orange County do.  Harry Moore was a "man ahead of his time", but tragically the community he lived in wasn't and apparently still isn't.

Positive progressive change will only come when people take the initiative to boldly embrace new and clearly better ways of doing things. 
Aquaponics is without doubt one of those things.  It is the most energy and space efficient way to grow food that has ever been developed.

I was first introduced to "Aquaponics" about 40 years ago while attending Goddard College.  At the time that specific term was not yet being used.  But the concepts and practice of it were a major aspect of the Social Ecology Studies Program that I was enrolled in.

To my knowledge there is not an Aquaponics System in any Public Park yet.  Even if there is something of this type that I'm not aware of, the potential benefits of implementing one in the
Moore Memorial Park to our local community and to society in general, would be very great in deed!

Best Regards 
Greg Pettengill
On Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 10:27 PM, a href="" target="_blank">Bill Gary> wrote:
Greg, I guess you really believe this is a good project and I am willing to see if you can pull it together. I am too busy trying to manage the many things we already have going on to put another conceptual project on my plate.

I can easily empathize with your feeling of having an overwhelming amount to do and I wouldn't want to unduly impose on your time.  But, so that I might gain sufficient knowledge to put together a comprehensive presentation, would you please compile a short list of people for me?  One of individuals that you feel might be best be able to assist me in that objective?

(SNIP) have you approached Parks and Recreation about putting this water garden at Chain of Lakes?
I have not because Community Gardens of any type, need to be located in close proximity (easy walking distance) to where the gardeners live.

BTW it is improper and likely to be quite misleading and confusing to refer to an Aquaponic System as a "water garden".  An analogy would be referring to the
Wright Brother's
airplane as "modern" transportation.

On Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 4:00 PM, a href="" target="_blank">Bill Gary> wrote:
(SNIP) My other point is, what makes you think this is something that the Moore Cultural Complex Board would be interested in?  It will in no way promote the legacy of Harry & Harriette Moore, it is of no historical/cultural value in terms of the civil rights work they did, it does not promote civil rights or history in any form that I can see, so what would be its purpose? (SNIP)

Those are very good questions, with no easy or simple answers that I can see offhand!  But I'm certain, as one can reasonably be, that they exist and that we can find them, if we try.  As it appears to me now, it is likely to take a substantial amount of discussion between us, as well as some studying of relevant material, to effectively and sufficiently answer and understand them.
As it appears to me now, the legacy of Harry & Harriette Moore would be well served by having a Community Garden as I have suggested.  Because, it would cultivate civic values, much in the same way they did.  Much has changed in our World since their time.  The issues and challenges they faced, have changed in context, but have not gone away.  Instead, along with World population, they have grown in size and complexity.  Now, it's not just a matter of simple racial issues we have to deal with, it is the more daunting problems of environmental degradation and much greater socio-economic inequality that we face.  The gap between rich and poor of all races of people has continued to widen to the extent that now, a mere 2% of the World's population has 48% of it's wealth.  A Community Garden in their Memorial Park would be a powerful and dynamic icon representing what needs to be done now in Mims and the World.  It would be a practical demonstration of what a local community can do to improve it's self and in doing so, the World.

Best Regards
Act locally, think globally.
I think this is something that will not fly, especially at the Moore Park. Additionally, what I was concerned about initially is getting involved with helping you pull this off -  I don't have time to put together a list of people to help you prepare a presentation nor am  I willing to do it myself. Whether you call it a Community Garden or an Aquaphonic System, it is not something the Moore Cultural Complex board supports for inclusion in the Moore Park. I think you'll have better luck at a different location.
bill gary 

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Comment by Eric Warwick on July 2, 2011 at 2:23pm
I think they aren't educated, about anything "green", and don't want to be educated. This is the must frustrating part, the willingness to be ignorant, this makes it incredibly hard: oy. I might give them a picture or something. Maybe, start again with the community, though I'm guessing they are the same. I wish that aquaponics would sprout up as quickly as this community is growing, I think once people are forced to do something they have a higher probability of actually doing it. I say don't be discouraged, but if it doesn't work try something else: I'm sorry the guys practically, in this situation, an idiot.
Comment by Kobus Jooste on July 2, 2011 at 2:11pm

Greg, I was being slightly ironic about the maths - if I rely on my ability in that department I'm solidly screwed.  I would love to learn from as many sources as I can, and enjoy collaborating and brainstorming.  I think my "problem" if I may call it is twofold.  First, I partnered up with a group of people that had big commercial units and large profits as motivation, neglecting the need for laying foundations with school and community / backyard awareness.  They were a large engineering company with little desire for small projects.  My second issue is with the perceptions of the people of all levels of education that I have to deal with.  plants are stuck into the ground, given fertilizer and that is how you farm over here.  I may be jumping too many hurdles in going straight for aquaponics when most people cannot get beyond water conservation.


I am now tryng to take baby steps from landscaping upwards in order to gradually phase the idea of aquaponics and urban agriculture into the mindset here.

Comment by Greg Pettengill on July 2, 2011 at 1:40pm


While I sympathize with the way you feel and believe that you are wise not to persist with efforts that are not producing the desired results, I don't think it is proper to view social problems as mathematical formulas.  Perhaps if we try collaborate in some new and creative way, we will find a better, mutually beneficial approach?  Thomas Friedman in his book "The World is Flat" I feel speaks to this kind paradigm.

Comment by Kobus Jooste on July 2, 2011 at 11:56am

Greg, while we are half a world apart, I feel that we share to a large amount of detail a struggle to get the same ideals into reality.  I have been battling along for longer than I would like to remember, at great cost, with various partners and potential funding / supporting agencies to bring urban agriculture and aquaponics into the area where I live.  While some romantic types might argue that having tried and failed is better than not trying I am not the type that enjoys failing so much that I will recommend it to anyone.  Especially when it appears, to me at least, that what I am trying to do is extremely logical and rather important to the region and its struggling communities.


What is even more frustrating is that try as I may, I do not seem to be able to convince myself to stop trying.  Kind of like being on a highway and having your potential offramps constantly blocked by stubborn traffic that will not yield.  So I remain a sometimes delusioned advocate of the same kind of projects you aspire to.  Attempts to get out of aquaponics and into more mondane formal employment has not been a great success either.  It seems as if, every time I try to throw in the towel, some tiny glimmer of hope somewhere shines for just long enough for me to keep trying.  Very frustrating really.  Thus I have devised a cunning plan.  I am combining potential work with trying to get aquaponics projects established.  My thought is that in maths, getting a double negative there would immediately give me a positive not so?

Comment by Greg Pettengill on July 2, 2011 at 11:12am


Thanks for the complements!  You may be better at writing than you think.  Regardless, just keep practicing.

If you look at his bio, I'm sure that you'll agree that he is smart enough and educated enough to know better!  I guess that is what I find so frustrating and disheartening.

Comment by David Waite on July 2, 2011 at 10:24am
Greg first of all I wish I could write with your skill. Too bad the administrator is a moron. What a great concept.

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