Friendly Aquaponics: Commercial and Home-Scale Fish and Vegetable Production

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It always appeals to me when I see a business that lists, as one of its goals, to "put ourselves out of business as soon as we can" by spreading its knowledge as freely as generously as possible—especially when Leonard Nimoy is quoted as inspiration. But I suspect Friendly Aquaponics in Hawaii will be in business for some time to come. And that's no bad thing. If their website is anything to go by, their aquaponics system is one of the most impressive I've seen. From the Urban Aquaponics of Will Allen's Growing Power to the ready-to-use aquaponics kits of Aquaponics USA, the idea of combining hydroponics and aquaculture in a mutually beneficial system is appealing from an efficiency standpoint. And while some have argued that aquaponics is cruel, it's certainly no more cruel than any other type of aquaculture.

Despite being relative newcomers to the field, and despite "a long history of killing houseplants", Susanne Friend and Tim Mann of Friendly Aquaponics seem to have their system down. Having decided in 2007 that the construction industry was no longer for them, the couple attended an aquaponics course at the University of the Virgin Islands. They now run their own commercial aquaponics system which they claim produced $5000 worth of produce and fish per month. The couple is also running a smaller off-grid system, ideal for family use. They are growing lettuce, two types of tillapia, prawns, cut flowers and taro—a root and leaf crop traditionally grown by Pacific Islanders.

The couple are also running trainings, offering consultancy, and selling their copyrighted plans for commercial and domestic aquaponics systems online. Their plans don't come cheap—but by the looks of things they've invested a lot of fime and effort into making them work.

Great to see yet another entrepreneurial outfit pushing aquaponics forward. Whether they'll ever put themselves out of business remains to be seen.