Aquaponics workshop… What a thumbs-up experience!

By: Estefania James, MS, Program Assistant
 
The OSU South Centers was the venue of the last Aquaculture Boot Camp (ABC) program event. This workshop brought together around 50 new and advanced aquaponics farmers from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and New Jersey. 
 
According to previous surveys conducted in 2014, aquaponics was the top topic requested among ABC intermediate and intensive students, and the Ohio Aquaculture Association (OAA) members. As a result, the OAA and the ABC program worked dedicatedly to offer a technical and hands-on aquaponics training workshop July 10-11, 2015.
 
The main purpose of this workshop was to offer the opportunity to network with local farmers to hear about their business experiences, and to learn from their challenges and obstacles. Furthermore, this workshop attempted to answer technical questions such as construction considerations, business aspects, economics, and the selection of plants and fish. 
 
Successful aquaponics growers were invited to be part of this event. Ryan Chatterson from Chatterson Farms located in Clermont, Florida was one of the speakers. He described the technical considerations to build recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), equipment and tools selections, as well as fish and plant production dynamics. Another collaborator was Allen Patillo from Iowa State University. Allen explained several experiments conducted to collect data from different production systems by using different growing media and lighting sources, among others. Jeni and Doug Blackburn, owners of Fresh Harvest Farms were also invited. They shared their strategies to successfully manage an aquaponics farm. They also spoke about several marketing approaches to build strong relationships with direct customers. Lori Klintworth and Mark Zody debuted for the first time as presenters. They own Local Sprouts Aquaponics from Apple Creek, Ohio.
 
They shared their adventure of building their aquaponics farm while attending the ABC intensive class. 
 
Participant evaluations of the workshop were very favorable, with 100% agreeing they would strongly recommend the aquaponics workshop to a colleague.  New lessons were learned related to aquaponics crops and systems. Although there may be more questions to be answered, that was the purpose of this workshop…“to promote a higher and deeper interest in aquaponics farming.” Make sure to visit our website: southcenters.osu.edu/aquaculture/aquaculture-extension/boot-camp/intensive/aquaponics-workshop-2015 to revisit the presentations and pictures from the workshop. Please contact us with any further questions.