Monthly Archives: January 2012





Aquaponics Projects


Hawaii Aquaponics Workforce Maui

Nelson and Pade, Inc has been contracted to build multiple aquaponics systems, provide training and support for a workforce development project at the University of Hawaii, Maui and other locations. John and Rebecca travelled to Maui in September to intiate the project and start the training. The systems will be built and shipped during the fall of 2011.

Aquaponics in a Survival Condo

Nelson and Pade, Inc. has been contracted to design the aquaponic system for a surviival condo in a missile silo.  We visited the faclity and met project manager, Larry Hall, in October.  During this visit, we took part in the filming of a documentary on the project for National Geographic Channel.

Las Lomas, Trinidad, Eco-Resort and Aquaponics

Nelson and Pade, Inc. is has designed and is building an aquaponic system for the Las Lomas Legacy Project in the island country of Trinidad, sponsored by the First Church of the Open Bible. The project, located on 72 beautiful acres,  will be an eco-resort, featuring the heritage of various Caribbean islands. The aquaponic system will be the first component to be installed.

Sian and Orville, from Trinidad, and Richard, from Jamaica, are currently doing training at Nelson and Pade, Inc. for this project. The greenhouse and Clear Flow Aquaponic System will be shipped to Trinidad in October. Nelson and Pade, Inc. will continue to provide tech support and periodic onsite training.

H.O.P.E, Pueblo Tribe, New Mexico

Nelson and Pade, Inc. is assisting H.O.P.E. (Honor Our Pueblo Existence), a Pueblo organization in New Mexico, in the planning of an aquaponic project for the Santa Clara Pueblo.  The initial project will be for the purpose of demonstrating aquaponic technology to the tribal community. The long term goal is to use aquaponics to provide fresh fish and vegetables to the community as well as be a profitable venture.  The Santa Clara tribe lives in the shadow of the Las Alamos nuclear lab and waterways, soil and irrigations systems have been contaminated.  Aquaponics will allow them to grow fresh fish and vegetables without relying on the soil.

New Aquaponics Demonstration Greenhouse

Nelson and Pade, Inc. has competed the construction of their new 5,000 square foot aquaponics greenhouse.  The new research and demonstration facility showcases the latest in Clear Flow Aquaponic SystemsTM and controlled environment agriculture.

A variety of crops ranging from fancy lettuces and herbs to tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are grown in aquaponics, where the fish waste provides the fertilizer for the plants.
The greenhouse demonstrates energy efficiency, natural ventilation, a variety of heating techniques, greenhouse coverings and grow lights.
The new greenhouse provides the backdrop for Nelson Pade, Inc.’s successful aquaponics training workshops, a new tour program and an on-site farm stand.

Kansas City Aquaponics Project

Kansas City’s Green Acres Community Garden has partnered with the City, the school district and other organizations to put this plan into action. The project will utilize abandoned (but very nice) greenhouses at East High School to launch an aquaponics program and initiative that will provide fresh food to the community, education and hands-on learning for students and jobs and job training for local youth.
Nelson and Pade, Inc. is supplying the systems, training, technology curriculum and support.
Through common goals, partnerships and innovative thinking, Ms. Coe and all involved in this effort are chipping away at the problems of urban food desserts, compromised educational systems, crime and a lack of jobs. This project will feed people while nurturing the soul through a new connection to food, agriculture and aquaponics. I applaud this group for their foresight and motivation!

Aquaponics Goes to Hollywood

Nelson and Pade, Inc. is working with a group of young celebrities to bring aquaponics and fresh nutritious food to Hollywood.
This project will include aquaponic food production in a controlled environment greenhouse, plus a retail, education and agri-tourism center.
This facility will be a destination to purchase fresh fish and veggies and learn about aquaponics, all in a 1/2 acre aquaponic greenhouse.
More details to come.

“Living Food BankTM” Aquaponic System in Haiti

Nelson and Pade, Inc. has begun construction on a Living Food BankTM aquaponic system at the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. The system is complete with a tropical greenhouse and stand-alone energy system. The aquaponic system is designed to grow tilapia, a fresh water fish and a variety of vegetables. This is the first phase of a large-scale project. The Phase One system is intended to demonstrate the technology and allow NWHCM staff and volunteers to get familiar with the daily operation of an aquaponic system. The aquaponic system will be housed in a tropical greenhouse for crop protection. The Phase One greenhouse will cover approximately 4144 sq. ft. and is capable of annually producing 3500 lbs of fish and 27,500 heads of lettuce. Other vegetables crops, such and beans, peas and tomatoes can be grown in the system as well.
Phase Two will be on a much larger scale and is intended to provide fresh fish and vegetables to thousands of people in North West Haiti.
John Pade and Rebecca Nelson travelled to Haiti October, 2010 to assist with the installation and training.

Greens & Gills, LLC.

Nelson and Pade, Inc. is working on the design and project plan for Greens & Gills, LLC, an innovative new aquaponics company that plans to build a 2 acre aquaponic facility in the Chicago area. David Ellis, CEO, shares, “Green & Gills, LLC is focused on positively impacting our food system by providing affordable, locally grown, herbicide-free and pesticide-free produce and also naturally raised fish to large urban markets across the United States.
Stay tuned at

KP Simply Fresh 5000 sq. ft Aquaponic Greenhouse near Baraboo, Wisconsin

Nelson and Pade, Inc. assisted the Meunier Family of KP Simply Fresh on the establishment of their new aquaponic greenhouse. Nelson and Pade, Inc. provided the technology and equipment and continues to provide ongoing support and guidance. Located near Baraboo, Wisconsin, the Meunier’s are raising fancy lettuce and tilapia in their new aquaponic greenhouse. KP Simply Fresh has established accounts for their beautiful lettuces and fresh tilapia.
Consumers in the Baraboo area are encouraged to seek out fresh produce and fish from KP Simply Fresh. The Meunier’s are sustainably growing safe, fresh, nutritious food. Wisconsinites, be sure to “buy local” and support KP Simply Fresh. You will be happy you did.
See more photos at:

Installation of Aquaponic System at University of the Virgin Islands

In March, 2009, Nelson and Pade, Inc installed their 4-250-2-8×22 Raft Aquaponic System at the Agriculture Experiment Station at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI). It will be used for demonstration and crop trials by Dr. James Rakocy and the research scientists at UVI.
Information and updates will be published in the Aquaponics Journal.
In the photo on the right, from left to right: Don Bailey, Jason Danaher, R Charlie Shultz, Frankie, John Pade, Rebecca Nelson and Dr. James Rakocy.
The system is located just outside the UVI Farm store so visitors, islanders and UVI students can learn about aquaponics and see a system in action.



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G.F.A Advanced System Ltd.



 G.F.A Advanced System Ltd.

Aquaculture is the farming of
aquatic organisms: fish, molluscs, crustaceans, aquatic plants,
crocodiles, alligators, turtles, and amphibians. Farming implies
some form of intervention in the rearing process to enhance
production, such as regular stocking, feeding, protection from
predators, etc. Farming also implies individual or corporate
ownership of the stock being cultivated.





For statistical purposes, aquatic
organisms which are harvested by an individual or corporate body
which has owned them throughout their rearing period contribute to
aquaculture, while aquatic organisms which are exploitable by the
public as a common property resource, with or without appropriate
licences, are the harvest of capture fisheries.

Grow Fish Anywhere

G.F.A Advanced System Ltd.
has developed and implemented a unique patented fully closed, zero
discharge intensive aquaculture system that is suitable both for
fresh and sea water fish. The system is based on an extensive
research done by Prof. Jaap Van Rijn
of the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem
. The system prevents environmental
pollution, and can operate in any climate regardless of the
availability of water resource or proximity to the sea. The system
has been tested and proven on a scientific basis and is now
operated commercially.
Our Unique Aquaculture Technology

Unique Aquaculture Technology

GFA unique
system overcomes several limiting factors that restrain the output
and effectiveness of fish farmers.

The accumulation
of inorganic nitrogen and organic waste products in intensive fish
culture systems is one of the major limiting factors preventing
further intensification. Inorganic nitrogen (especially ammonia and
nitrite) is toxic to fish and accumulates in the pond water through
excretion of ammonia by the fish and by breakdown of organic
solids. Most of the treatment systems used in today’s aquaculture
facilities are designed to facilitate the growth of nitrifying
bacteria which convert ammonia to nitrate. A drawback of the
ammonia removal by means of nitrification is the subsequent
increase in nitrate in the culture system. High nitrate
concentrations ought to be prevented since, at high concentrations,
nitrate has a toxic effect of fish and might be converted to
nitrite with an even higher toxicity. Daily flushing the ponds at
rates of up to 25% of the total system volume is generally
practiced to avoid nitrate build up.

However, such a
practice often causes considerable environmental impact and is
prohibited in many countries due to environmental and public health
considerations. With respect to organic waste products, most
aquaculture facilities are designed to mechanically remove the
organic waste from the culture tank. Often, the concentrated
organic waste is discharged from these facilities without
post-treatment and this practice together with the discharge of
nitrate-rich effluents is considered a major limitation in the
development of intensive fish culture systems.

Due to the need
for daily water exchange, existing intensive fish culture systems
are situated in areas with an ample clean water supply. Thus, for
economical reasons concerned with water supply and discharge,
culture systems for marine fish (including recirculating systems)
are exclusively situated in the vicinity of the sea. Marine fish
farming, whether practiced in seacages or in land-based farms, is
often subject to intensive public debate as the farms discharge
nutrient-rich effluents in coastal waters of often heavily
populated areas. Sustainable farming of marine fish is therefore a
major challenge in today’s aquaculture development.

system developed by Prof. van Rijn and G.F.A Advanced Systems is a
zero-discharge system suitable for the culture of freshwater as
well as marine edible and ornamental fish. No water exchange takes
place and water addition is limited to compensate for evaporation
losses only. The system reduces inorganic nitrogen and
organic wastes from pond water by means of the induction of several
microbial processes among which: (1) fermentation: the conversion
of complex organic waste compound to low molecular weight organic
compounds, (2) nitrification: the conversion of ammonia to nitrate
and (3) denitrification: the conversion of nitrate to nitrogen gas
and the conversion of low molecular weight organic compounds to
carbon dioxide.

For more information on


• High output-
Avg. density of 70 – 100 kg of fish per m³ of water

• Maximum
freshness- Within a day from farm to plate

• Zero
discharge- No environmental pollution and Bio-Secure

• Produces
premium fish- No antibiotics, mercury and lead free fish

• Both saltwater
and fresh water

• Grow Fish
Anywhere (G.F.A) – Can operate in any climate regardless of the
availability of a water resource or proximity to the sea

• Non native –
enable the growth of non native fish in any region


At GFA, our sustainability vision is focused
on water conservation and energy savings technologies for the local
market. We believe that the future of our food consumption will
belong to environmentally friendly and sustainable production
driven by economic sense for high quality healthy

The main aspect of the GFA systems is its Water Conservation and
Pollution preventing.

Our production system allows the production of marine fish species
in 100% recycled water systems. 1 kg of grain needs 1,000 liters of
water to grow to maturity. Our unique system enables us to produce
1 Kg protain (within the fish) in less than 10 liters loss due to
evaporation and do not discharge any waste water or pollution in
the process.

Another key aspect is Feed

. GFA systems that grow the fish in
land based tanks, enable the improvement of feed usage. Our system
allows, in comparison to sea cages (nets) and open pools, to better
managment of the Food
Conversion Ratio
(FCR). Less food for each Kg of production
means lower production costs and a real help for protecting our

Contact  G.F.A Advanced System Ltd.

Feel free to contact on any question

H’aofe 1, Kadima

P.O.Box 5030


T/F: 972.97406761



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Growing Power is a sustainable urban agriculture center located in the city of Milwaukee. It was founded by Will Allen to introduce healthier food options to the urban community, while simultaneously demonstrating a sustainable model for local food production.

In 1993, Growing Power was an organization with teens 

who needed a place to work.  

Will Allen was a farmer with land.  

Will designed a program that offered teens an opportunity to work at his store and renovate the greenhouses to grow food for their community.  What started as a simple partnership to change the landscape of the north side of Milwaukee has blossomed into a national and global commitment to sustainable food systems.

Since its inception, Growing Power has served as a ”living museum” or “idea factory” for the young, the elderly, farmers, producers, and other professionals ranging from USDA personnel to urban planners.  Training areas include the following: acid-digestion, anaerobic digestion for food waste, bio-phyto remediation and soil health, aquaculture closed-loop systems, vermiculture, small and large scale composting, urban agriculture, permaculture, food distribution, marketing, value-added product development, youth education, community engagement, participatory leadership development, and project planning.




The simple truth is that it all starts with the soil.  Without good soil, 

crops don’t get enough of the nutrients they need to survive and 

when plants are stressed, they are more prone to disease and pest 

problems.  That’s why we grow our own compost and vermicompost –

10 million tons of it a year.  That compost goes onto every growing bed 

we raise crops on.  Because we know what goes in to the compost, 

we aren’t worried that the soil is contaminated with lead or other 

chemicals that humans just shouldn’t eat. 

At Growing Power, we raise all of our crops sustainably, which is a term that means we grow produce

at or above current organic standards but we have not been certified organic by the U.S. 

government.  Currently, it just is not a priority of ours.  We would all much rather be in the fields than 

filling out lots of paper work for the government. 


To grow sustainably means that we do not use any synthetic chemicals – 

fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides – on any of our crops.  We prefer to do 

things the old fashioned way; we hand pick weeds, we control pests with 

beneficial insects such as ladybugs, and we use foliar compost tea to help 

control pest and bacteria problems.  As a very last resort, we use only 

certified organic pesticides like Neem oil and Pyrethrum, a pesticide made 

from Chrysanthemum leaves.

In addition, we buy all of our seed from reputable seed companies who do not treat their seeds with pesticides or other chemicals.  Seed companies that we often use are Johnny’s Seed and Seed Savers.  These are seed companies that we trust and who are committed to helping their communities.


Ready, set, seed!

This is how we seed our pots of greens and herbs – all 20,000 of them.

First, we fill the pot with compost.  Next, we add worms that will continue to break down the compost in the pot and supply the crop with nutrients over the growing period.  Then, we sprinkle seeds across the soil.  Finally, we cover the seed with coir, a sustainable peat moss substitute made from coconut fibers which helps with water retention.

Unconventional Hoop Dreams

Will Allen is an excellent basketball player.  In fact he played professionally for six years. Fortunately for Growing Power, Will likes to farm too.  The Chicago Lights Urban Farm at Cabrini-Green is the perfect combination of both of his passions.  The entire garden is built on an old basketball court – literally, on top of concrete.  


More info about GROWING POWER  at:



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Welcome to Friendly Aquaponics!



Friendly Aquaponics

Do you know how to grow your own food? Do you earn your living from growing food, or from some other business that is less than dependable in these difficult economic times?

  • In addition to running our commercial aquaponics farm, Friendly Aquaponics teaches how to build and operate your own aquaponics systems, from indoor tabletop systems, to backyard home systems, to full-sized commercial systems of thousands of square feet. With four years of experience doing this, and hundreds of systems built using our materials, we know that our courses and DIY manuals work.,

  • We know because thirty to forty percent of our students have built and are successfully operating commercial and home aquaponics systems. Both our live trainings and our DIY courses give you state-of-the-art aquaponics systems at a fraction of the cost of “kits”, AND with much better technical and operating information.

  • None of the people selling these “kits” operate a commercial farm for their living as we do. Our aquaponics information comes directly from our real-world experience growing and selling vegetables for a living. In addition, all the “kits” sold by these people need to be assembled, just as our systems do, so they don’t save you any work. However, you can buy the equipment and materials for our systems for one quarter to one-sixth of the cost of the “kits”. Get the idea?

  • Because of improvements in seeding, germination, sprouting, planting, plant nursery systems, and grow-out systems that my awesome wife Susanne has come up with in the last year, our commercial systems hold 4.3 times the amount of plants per square foot as the Nelson and Pade and UVI aquaponics systems do. This means our systems put out four times as many plants per square foot as “kit” systems based on these designs do, in the same time, and our systems only cost one-quarter as much to build. If you do the math here, you will see our systems grow sixteen times the number of plants for the same cost to build.


    Friendly Aquaponics

    The building industry effectively died on the Big Island in 2007, and our family’s two construction-related companies shriveled on the vine. We looked for alternatives in food production. We knew people might stop buying houses and cars in an economic downturn, but not food. This turned out to be almost prescient in the middle of 2007, a year before the current economic crisis hit.
    Tim had been interested in aquaculture for years, but unfortunately, was married to someone else at the time who never supported the idea (or anything else that he wanted to do, for the most part!). And as serendipity would have it, my parents had built and operated an aquaculture facility in California when I was a child. So when we heard about aquaponics, we began to be very excited, and began doing some research on it.
    The most successful commercial aquaponics project we found was operated by the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) Dr. James Rakocy. In my internet research, Dr. Rakocy’s name kept popping up all over the Web when searching aquaponics references. We read all his papers; they were excellent, full of detail and economic analysis. We were sold on aquaponics and signed up for the UVI Short Course.
    Ten days later we were boarding the plane for the Virgin Islands. Ten days after that, back on the Big Island, we started planning our first aquaponics system. We are at the end of the supply line in Hawaii; so shipping items from the mainland often costs more than the stuff itself. The first thing we discovered was that building an aquaponics system the way UVI had done would cost almost as much to ship the system components here as it cost to purchase them on the mainland. We also found that electricity on the Big Island was 33 cents per kilowatt-hour (that was when we began in 2007; it’s 44 cents per kilowatt-hour now), much higher than the 22 cents per kilowatt-hour we were told electricity cost in the Virgin Islands.
    After we ran some financial projections with these numbers and got depressed by the results, we redesigned the UVI systems for more economical construction and operation in Hawaii. Our first systems had an equivalent capacity to UVI’s commercial system but only used half the electricity for the same aeration and pumping parameters, and cost half as much to build in Hawaii in 2007 as UVI said its system cost in 2004.
    We built that design in 2007. We planted 90 different species of vegetables in our first test planting to get information on what grew best, optimum planting densities, and production volume, because the UVI course only provided data on basil, lettuce, and okra. Encouraged by the results from our first independent design in aquaponics technology, we built a hatchery, a recirculating nursery aquaponic system and one more grow-out aquaponic system in the next twelve months, each with improvements we learned from the previous systems. As of June 2010, we have a total of 5,900 square feet of raft area in six aquaponics systems, and another 1,200 square feet of covered sprouting table area.
    We figured out an effective, economical and simple way to breed and raise tilapia fry. After more inquiry and trials, we figured out a way to grow Macrobrachium rosenbergii (Malaysian Giant River Prawns) successfully in the hydroponics troughs, and are doing more trials aimed at determining optimum stocking densities, grow-out times, and harvest sizes for best production for the prawns. We designed and built a simplified, economical family backyard 256 square foot aquaponic system that after two years of successful operation still achieves good production with ease and economy of operation. This is what we call our LD (or Low Density) system, which runs on one-fifth the electricity our original systems do, or in other words, one-tenth the electricity of the original UVI systems, for the same vegetable production. We designed and built a simple 64-square foot backyard system we dubbed the “Micro System”, tens of which have been built in the first few months after release of the plans set.
    In October 2008 we produced our first “Commercial Aquaponics Training”. This training gives people everything they need to build and successfully operate a small commercial aquaponics system in an intensive, four-day course with lots of hands-on sessions at the farm. The 2008 training had 78 attendees; one of them actually built a small system in the five days between the two weekends of the training; fourteen others now have aquaponics systems in operation; six of those are commercial systems; and five of those have already gotten organically certified as of June 2010. For those unable to attend a live training, we made the same training available as a package which includes a 112-page course manual, computer-drawn construction plans, a 47-page construction manual, a day-by-day operations manual, and much more. These do-it-myself plans have allowed people all over the world, in locations as diverse as Singapore, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Trinidad, Arizona, Idaho, California, and Kauai, to build commercial aquaponics systems without expensive travel and training in a distant location (well, if you feel you HAVE to go somewhere for training, Hawaii’s not so bad).
    In April 2010 we produced our fourth Commercial Aquaponics Training with 48 participants; this training was particularly interesting because 75% of the people who attended came from outside Hawaii. More interesting was the fact that several of the course participants had previously attended other commercial aquaponics trainings, including the UVI training, yet still felt our course offered enough value to make coming to Hawaii worthwhile. We currently produce our live Hawaii courses twice a year, in October and April, and have added a fifth and sixth day to the course to cover building and operating methane biodigesters.
    Most recently we designed and built a Micro Aquaponics System of 64 or 128 square feet of grow bed area, and have published plans costing $99.95 for this system, which can be built for under $700 worth of materials (on the mainland, this is about $9,000 in Hawaii). This is a reply to all the $2,495.00 (or more) aquaponics system “kits” we kept seeing on the internet with only 20 square feet of grow bed area, the sellers of which promised the purchaser they would “grow all the vegetables your family needs”. These claims are garbage, because these tiny systems cannot possibly do what the sellers claim. We are offended by them preying on people new to aquaponics who didn’t know any better and didn’t have any alternatives. Now there’s an alternative in the Micro System, and we hope to see these incredibly robust and productive small systems springing up in backyards all over the country as a result.

    Contact our friends at

    Friendly Aquaponics

    Friendly Aquaponics, Inc.
    PO Box 1196
    Honoka’a, HI 96727


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L.S. Enterprises






L. S. Enterprises


L. S. Enterprises is the source for biofiltration packings and media used in biofilters of all kinds. Our packings are used in aquaculture, public aquariums, koi pond systems, and many other applications. All intensive recirculating aquaculture systems need biofilters and we supply the best packings for both trickling filters and submerged filters. In addition to biofilters, we supply packings for RBC’s (Rotating Biological Contactors), CO2 (and other gases) strippers, gas absorbers, and tube settlers.



Technical and Commercial Information

Aquaculture Links

Suppliers to the Industry








We can also be reached by mail, telephone, or FAX at: P.O. Box 51033 Fort Myers, FL 33994 USA Tel. 1-239-543-1258 Fax 1-239-543-7308

For further information contact Matt Smith at  



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Aquaponics in El Salvador



Locavore Del Mundo


Locavore Del Mundo: Someone who is crazy about eating locally around the world!

About Me:

Me with a guernsey cow at Seneca Breeze Farm in NY. Photo taken by Eric English.


I have edacious tendencies and often need to force myself to put the fork down because I want to continue eating, not because I’m hungry but because I want to savor the delectable flavors. I do not believe we should consume food for the sole purpose of alimentation; food is meant to be enjoyed thoughtfully, slowly, with company. Many of my most content moments are when I’m in my kitchen cooking, or when I’m in my garden tending to my plants. Some of my most enjoyable and enlightening moments are when I become friends with local farmers and can use their products in my kitchen. I much prefer to be able to hand someone money while thanking them for their hard work instead of forking my cash over to a bored teenager at a cash register who is just one of the perhaps dozens of people who will see but a fraction of my hard-earned money.

I am a science teacher at a private school in El Salvador where I teach environmental science, biodiversity, and biology. I have a Master’s degree in Agriculture, Food & the Environment from Tufts University. Apart from growing and cooking food (and seeking out my local farmers), I am passionate about nearly every outdoor pursuit as well as living sustainably. The most un-sustainable aspect of my life is the frequency I travel. So I’m really hoping this solar-powered plane can be made into a 747-sized model soon.

About the importance of local food:

Choosing to buy local food is a strong vote with your dollar. You are voting for a strong local economy, for fresher produce, for farmland preservation, and for your neighbor. My personal favorite benefit of local food is the increase in the diversity of food you can fill your shopping bag with. Tomatoes in the large supermarkets seem to come in three sizes, small (cherry), medium (Roma) and large (these mealy flavorless ones, bred for the durability, color, and size are just called “supermarket tomatoes”). At farmers markets, the abundance of tomatoes in all shapes and sizes and fully ripened colors ranging from purple to yellow to green to red will have your head spinning in tomato bliss.

This variety does more than please the palate; biological diversity on a farm has the very localized benefit of reducing the need for pesticides. A variety of plants brings in a variety of insects, and the beneficial ones will keep the harmful ones in check. Farm biodiversity also has the much more global implications of preserving genetic diversity. A monoculture is susceptible to disease outbreaks, and much of the industrial food chain is started in fields of single species. Bananas, if they could speak, could warn against such monoculture disasters. What happened to the Gros Michael banana variety seems to be happening again to the Cavendish variety, the one you see in bright yellow bunches in the supermarket. But we shouldn’t be buying bananas because they’re certainly not local, right?

I would also like to add that local food tastes better. Perhaps it’s because it was picked that morning, or that it didn’t travel thousands of miles squished in a crate on a boat and in a truck, or perhaps it’s because the food is at its peak, it’s being eaten exactly when it should, not cold-stored for several months before landing on your plate. I think it’s a combination of all of those reasons, as well as the comfort in knowing exactly where your food comes from, of just having discovered that you and the farmer you just purchased a bunch of beets and a bag of snow peas from share the same favorite hiking trail up a nearby mountain.

About the agriculture of the countries in this blog:

El Salvador

Aquaponics in El Salvador

Aquaponics, the combination of freshwater fish aquaculture and hydroponic vegetable production, is a practice I’m very familiar with. While living and working in the Bahamas, I helped design and build an expansion of the existing aquaponics system, and then ran the operation, providing the Island School with fresh lettuce every day and an occasional fish harvest.

The aquaponics system in the Bahamas I helped design and build. (These are the plant raceways.)

There, I raised Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) in several fiberglass tanks that were connected to the hydroponic raceways by PVC pipes and a gravity-draining system. The water was recirculated via only one pump, which was located in the sump underneath the beds of lettuce. Water lost to evaporation was added automatically (thanks to the float-valve), and that water came from rainwater that had been collected and stored in cisterns under the buildings. The energy that kept the pump pumping came from a large solar array. So all in all, it was an extremely sustainable system! We originally had to import the tilapia fingerlings, but then started raising our own – something I learned by trial and error, but eventually I was successful in creating a self-sustaining system. Almost. The weakest link, the one I hated to admit: we still imported our fish feed from Cargill feeds.


Nile tilapia.

Which is something that nearly all tilapia aquaculture operators in El Salvador do as well. In El Salvador, tilapia is raised three ways: extensively, in earthen ponds or small reservoirs with low stocking densities; intensively in aerated ponds or artificial raceways; or in cages located in ponds in a semi-intensive manner. But all three systems rely on the importation of feed. In one of the many imbalances of global food systems, El Salvador imports 2,415 tonnes of concentrated high-protein feed for tilapia production, yet exports only 230 tonnes (less than half of total domestic production) of tilapia, primarily to the U.S. And tilapia are fish with some of the highest feed conversion ratios!

Tilapia were introduced to El Salvador in the 1960′s, thanks to a program funded by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Yields per hectare (area being farmed with fish) vary from 1.5 to 10 tonnes per hectare, depending on how intensive the operation is. Aquaculture (which is nearly split evenly between tilapia and shrimp) as a whole is considered an insignificant part of the national economy (less than 1% GDP), and employs just over 1,000 people if you include the marketing, processing and distribution chains. The major problems that affect tilapia aquaculture are water quality issues, land costs, feed costs, diseases that plague the fish, and other environmental threats such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and pollution. However, tilapia production has increased dramatically since 2001, jumping from 28.8 tonnes to 654 tonnes, while marine shrimp and fish production has declined considerably.

But where are the plants? Well, primarily they are not there, which means that the fish are being raised in either earthen ponds or tanks without this extra benefit. If they’re in ponds, the density must be kept very low, unless the operators are pumping out and replacing water. If the fish are in tanks, the water must be aerated and replaced completely every day to prevent the dissolved oxygen (DO) from plummeting (thereby killing all the fish), and to remove the excess nutrient build-up (from the fish excrement and uneaten food). In an aquaponics system, the plants happily suck out these nutrients, and so the “clean” water is sent back into the fish tanks (which are still aerated).


Constructing the hydroponic raceways. (Photo credit: Rodolfo Castillo)

Small scale aquaponics systems are cropping up here and there. Recently, Peace Corps volunteers built a small aquaponics system in El Triunfo, training local families in its simple operation. The hope is that the families will spread the knowledge of how to build and run the systems to other local families, to improve food security and self-reliance in that poor community. I am interested to find out if it is still in operation. But as far as large-scale operations, that remains to be seen. Because of my background in aquaponics, an investor contacted me for assistance in setting up a commercial-scale system in El Salvador. I’ve been communicating via email, and his operation is currently in the works. He has the tilapia fingerling growing in four large circular tanks and construction will be done on the hydroponic raceways sometime next month. He plans to sell his fish and vegetables to only local markets, such as local restaurants, food markets, and even grocery stores. His operation is located near La Libertad, which is a large beach town about a half an hour from the city. He feels he is far enough inland to not worry about saltwater problems, though he is concerned about the heat. Hot temperatures also cause the DO to drop to unsafe levels, harming not just the fish, but also the plants. If the DO is too low in the plant raceways, the plants cannot absorb the nutrients, which means not only is the water not getting cleaned for the fish, but that the plants are being deprived of those vital nutrients.

Overall, aquaponics is an excellent system, and is receiving a lot more notice these days, particularly in the States thanks to primarily one man, Will Allen (named last year as one of the 100 most influential people by TIME magazine) and his organization, Growing Power. Aquaponics certainly is not a new thing, but it’s becoming more popular because it is (or can be) a more sustainable way to raise both protein and vegetables, and can be done on tiny backyard scales, or profitable large commercial systems (see Bioshelters). I will be visiting what will soon be El Salvador’s first commercial aquaponics system in November, so I’ll post an update when I do. But for now, try to see if there’s any aquaponics near you!


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LUXAR salata sa korijenom, zahvaljujući hidroponskom uzgoju i korijenu, hranjivija je i zdravija, ukusnija i duže svježija, od ostalih tradicionalno uzgojenih salata. Uzgajamo, bez pesticida i herbicida, sortu salate kristalku i putericu. Prepoznat ćete ih osim po korijenu i po intezivnoj zelenoj boji jer smo ih obilno „zalijevali” kisikom tijekom rasta. Zato je
LUXAR salata sa korijenom jedinstvena na hrvatskom tržištu, dostupna u supermaketima u većim hrvatskim gradovima.


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Exchange information, ideas and methodologies for aquaponics, fish, seafood and associated products inspection, quality management and fish/seafood processing technology


CCRES AQUAPONICS is really a “living machine”. It is completely self-sufficient and sustainable.

And, it generates its own renewable energy using power from the sun.
We even produce our own feed to raise fish.

And, we also sequester carbon and recycle nutrients, all without waste or inefficiency.

Membership is open to any professional or student with and interest and involvement with the fish,

seafood and aquaponics sector.

All the food CCRES produced during the year is given to poor families.


“CCRES AQUAPONICS is as close to being perfect as mother nature gets.”

– Željko Serdar, CCRES AQUAPONIC  President and CEO

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