It's surprising to me how often the answer is "aquaponics"....
Following the start of the first day of kindergarden for my granddaughter, I attended the "meet & greet" session in the multipurpose room with the new principal. In introducing himself he announced that he was looking for feedback on creating a theme for the school direction & curriculum. I had already noted that a school garden was listed by several parents, for a school project. Adding my two cents in, and a bit more, when I spoke with him I suggested aquaponics as a great vehicle, in our rural area, for pulling together science, math, biology, agriculture, etc. He was quite interested.
In speaking with a young woman, a waitress at a local blues BBQ in Virginia, I learned that she was a middle school science teacher, finishing her masters. We discussed the conference I was attending (AquaCulture) and that we wanted to add AquaPonics to our farm. She was fascinated... seeing the application immediately to her teaching science to 7th graders. Her questions were almost nonstop. The hands on real life applications of science! What a time in her students lives to make a difference.
A young man, working his way through college, working in the kitchen at the hotel where the AquaCulture conference was held, was looking in fascination at at the poster presentations. He told me his dad was thinking this would be a good thing to get into and wanted to know more. I suggested he "google" aquaponics as being very doable on a small scale (i.e. less than industrial sized).
Most surprising to me was a Doctor of Veterinarian medicine, who presented a paper at this conference on the contamination by heavy metals, from crayfish that had been recovered from the local canals, in Egypt. Crayfish escaped from an aquarium roughly 10 years ago and had become an invasive species in their canals. Looking at them as a potential food source (high protein), they collected over 500 and analyzed them only to find the shells and meat were concentrating heavy metals, some 10 times the human toxic level. The real concern was that the water they were living in came from their agricultural fields!
We sat at the airport waiting for our flights out, the doctor and several others, and I mentioned AP as a way around the contaminated water, for the vegetables and the fish/crayfish. He questioned me in-depth... This was a completely new concept for him. And the same request from a young engineer from Ethiopia... where can I get more information on this method?
It just feels like the tide is turning! Everywhere I turn I see opportunities to present AP as a potential solution to food safety, freedom from pesticide and chemical contamination, growing food in challenging areas with minimal water availability, freedom from long distance transportation issues, and of course, food that is actually harvested when it is ready (not green and then shipped)! Enhancing self-sufficiency and a clearer understanding of how the ecological world works.
I would love to hear about the different situations where aquaponics has been brought up. Have you run across other "like experiences"? Are there "doors" opening in your 'neck of the woods'?
It's an exciting time... it's not often one can offer a solution to multiple problems in one fell swoop!