Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Women in business, aquaponics and Mitt Romney

Without getting into the politics of it all, I was reading about Mitt Romney's pledge in Ohio to help female entrepreneurs and innovators in creating small businesses and the jobs that go with them.

This had me reflecting on the aquaponics field and just how prominate women are in designing, building, teaching and running aquaponics systems.

Of the 7000+ members on the Aquaponics Community Gardening Forum, many are women and many are leaders in aquaponics.
One friend of mine likes to bring up that when it comes to food and family, just how much of a force women become in their instinctive protection of their families.

So I can see how politicians could recognize women in business as an important focus for their efforts, but supporting women in business, especially food related businesses like aquaponics, I believe is critical to feeding a nation and the world. 

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Comment by Ed Hall on September 3, 2012 at 4:30pm

I would be willing to bet that there are more "Ladies" involved in this Hobby than area actully showing up on these web sights.  In my case, I built the system, my Lady Friend tells me what she wants to see grow.  She also helps to harvest the products, and cooks the food.  She spends most of her computer time on cooking sights looking for new receipes.  So, I would like to hazzard the statement that for every "Married Male' here, there is a Lady involved in Aquiponics, so the numbers are most likely no truly representative. 

Comment by Jim Hall on August 29, 2012 at 3:15am
I don't mind Rob. I just spent the night at the Maui meeting of the Hawaii Farmers Union United and got to see a lot of pretty young people very much interested in farming and teaching us older folks ways of preparing Bokashi and air layering trees.
Glenn Martinez, the head of HFUU and one of the speakers at the Aquaponics Associations conference next month in Denver flew over and talked. In his talk he also spoke about aquaponics, which had a lot of interest from all ages.
I agree with your take on it, the older group has the mindset and the income to get into aquaponics and own farms. I see that a relationship between them and the younger people is really starting to take hold. This relationship is opening doors for young people that have the constraints of families and income limits to pursue there new found passion towards growing food.
I think it may still be awhile before the data supports it, but I believe we will see a strong shift towards the younger people running these operations. I know on Maui that there are quite a few younger people involved in aquaponics.
It's sort of the field of dreams thing, build it and they will come.
Hopefully I will be able to get my video of tonight processed and uploaded, it's pretty inspirational.
There is a factor, especially in Hawaii to want to live somewhat care free and as food prices increase and availability of food gets more scarce due to all the various issues over the past year, I think there will be much more of a seriousness about our food and growing it in the years to come.
Stay tuned and I will try to get video posted. Love the discussion though.
Comment by Rob Torcellini on August 28, 2012 at 7:00pm

I could speculate for hours on end as to why the male:female ratios are so far skewed....probably could get myself in a lot of trouble with it too. 

What I'm more concerned about is the age demographics.  It would be nice to try to figure out why the younger folks aren't interested in it as much.  I would say I would agree with these numbers too since the people that come to visit the greenhouse match this curve.

My first guess would be that the younger folks are still busy raising families, enjoying being adventurous, and a little more care free with how their food is produce.  Meanwhile, us old folks now have a little more time to reflect on our lives...and probably have a little more cash to spend on setting up a system.  Just my theory. 

(Jim, sorry about sort of hijacking your "political" thread. 

Comment by Sylvia Bernstein on August 28, 2012 at 5:31pm

Ooooooo.....charts and numbers!  You are making me all warm and fuzzy.   VERY interesting that you are seeing the same thing on your YT and FB channels.  Why do you think that is?

Comment by Rob Torcellini on August 28, 2012 at 10:16am

Quite an interesting topic!  I've always thought there were a lot of women involved with AP, so I checked the stats on my YouTube and Facebook pages  (shameless plug alert:  http://www.youtube.com/web4deb and http://www.facebook.com/bigelowbrook)

The numbers jive with Sylvia's!  I'm actually surprised by the numbers since I'm a AA region leader and it seems like the majority of the people I interact with are women.

Here's my youtube viewers in the last 30 days:

And here's from my FaceBook total subscribers:

It's interesting to see that the FaceBook subscribers are younger....or a lot of people are lying about their age. 

It would be interesting too see what the demographic differences are between the folks that dig through YouTube vs people that get their info from printed books, like Sylvia's.  I bet you would find more women tend to reference books than men do.

I will admit that my video projects are quite technical which would probably tend to bias the demographics toward men.

Comment by Debra Colvin on August 28, 2012 at 12:08am
My complaint is how overly complicated most systems become, esp with the plumping, on this and other sites. I keep mine very simple, just barely covering the basics. When i chose to speak of this here hobby of mine, even amongst geeks like myself, i tend to clear out the room. I'm not much of a speaker, i suppose, but i do get some good results in my ponds.

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Comment by Bob Terrell on August 27, 2012 at 11:02pm

a plumbing project with a fishing pole at the end of it...hmmmmm  never thought of aquaponics like that but it fits.

Comment by Jim Hall on August 27, 2012 at 12:16pm
While the mechanics of the aquaponics projects tend to appeal more to men, I see that many of the driving forces behind gardening and aquaponics projects is where women seem to be getting more involved.
An example is in New Zealand where two Cook Island women, Lynnsay Rongokea and Barbara Thomson have a project going and even have Dr Wilson Lennard of Aquaponics Solutions, working onsite in Titikaveka, building and monitoring the fledgling project.
http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2012/08/new-aquaponics-project-could-be-...
Comment by Sylvia Bernstein on August 27, 2012 at 7:34am

Thanks for writing this, Jim!  Speaking for the women in aquaponics we appreciate your support.  The funny thing is I look at the gender split in AP quite differently.  This community, and our customer base, are both approximately 80% male (last time I checked was about 7 months ago and it was actually 79%...as it was the year before). Even at the conference to my chagrin we currently only have 4 female speakers out of over 25....and I'm one of them.

I"m fascinated by this and my theory is that when most women look at aquaponics they see a plumbing project with a fishing pole at the end of it...both typically male activities. I can certainly relate! One of my personal quests is to change that and make aquaponics much more approachable for, and appealing to, other women.  I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this subject!

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