Image credit: Access to Aquaponics
Whether the discussion is about the efficiency of aquaponics, or whether aquaponics is cruel or not, this innovative method of growing vegetables and raising fish certainly seems to be good for stirring up debate. But what do you do if you actually want to put aquaponics into practice? Apart from the ready-to-use systems of Aquaponics USA, until now most practitioners seem to either be agricultural-scale operations like Will Allen's Growing Power, or backyard hobbyists adept at DIY, like Snowcamp Aquaponics. But a new design company based out of Atlanta, GA is looking to change that - launching a range of kits and instructional materials for aquaponics enthusiasts in eleven states. But what's with the weird broccoli-fish monster? OK - so the odd illustration that accompanies Sustainable Design Group/Access to Aquaponics' press materials is not to my liking, but everything else about this company I like. A lot. Their website is in its very early stages, but the company plans to be selling everything from pumps to tanks to aerators, both online and through hydroponics stores across the country. The team will also be selling fish in the Atlanta area.
Access to Aquaponics has even created an aquaponics starter kit retailing at $499.99, known as the A-Frame. The unit includes (almost) everything you'd need to get started - pretty much all you are short of is some fish, a fish tank and some gravel. It should be noted that this is very much a beginners kit for experimentation and learning, so much so that it's recommended to start with goldfish, rather than edible species like tilapia. But as Bevan Suits of the Sustainable Design Group/Access to Aquaponics tells us "The point is to start small then most anyone will have the experience with the system to hack it as big as they want. Even a developer wanting to do it on a large scale should start at this scale."
Also featured on the company's website are a series of aquaponics installations, not to mention a downloadable 50 page Aquaponics Guidebook written by Bevan, and edited by Nick Thompson and David Cline of Auburn University Aquaculture. (I'm planning on a review as soon as I get over the culture shock of being a new green parent!)