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ANYONE in Washington State/Seattle?  RSS feed

 
Seth Connell
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Hey there everyone.

I'm an aquaponics engineer from Hawaii. I have certifications from NOAA and University of Hawaii, completed internship at Olomana Gardens, and have built and designed multiple systems over the past 3 years. I'm in Seattle now and have a small aquaponics business. I have been searching, and searching hard to find ANYONE involved in aquaponics out here. I have contacted ALL of the Aquaponics businesses and systems Ive been able to find and have barely received any responses. I don't know if they stopped their business or just plain do not want to participate in a community of aquaponic farmers, and would rather compete with each other instead of help one another out.

I've become part of a committee/think tank that is geared towards generating public awareness about aquaponics. I'm flabbergasted that only 3 of the 12 Systems in this state that I can find are interested in coming together as a community. In Hawaii there is a MASSIVE network of Aquaponic Farmers that meet regularly, teach one another, and really work together to spread the notions of sustainability. Here is who I have contacted (multiple times for each) in Washington so far and where communication stands with them:

True Blue Aquaponics in Seattle - Stable correspondence with Alex
Central City Farm Trust in Central Seattle - Stable correspondence with Ray
Seattle Tilth Urban Farm in Rainier Beach - Stable correspondence with Anthony

eFISHient Aquaponics in Bellingham - NO RESPONCE from Ken Block or Evan Wolf
Evergreen College in Olympia - NO RESPONCE from Jessica Schilke
Urbanist Farms in West Seattle - NO RESPONCE
Aquaponics Unlimited in Yelm - NO RESPONCE
TESC Systems in Olympia - NO RESPONCE
Sweet Heaven Aquaponics in Darrington - NO RESPONCE
Sound Aquaponics in Rochester - NO RESPONCE
Synergy Aquaponics in Moses Lake - NO RESPONCE
LifeNet Aquaponics in Northport Washington - NO RESPONCE

In order for aquaponics to catch on out here in the PNW we need help and testimonies/case studies from the above farms and other aquaponic farmers in washington state. At the very least, creating a network of as many aquaponic farmers out here is super important. When we run into any problems with our systems, or fish illness, etc we can all turn to one another for help. Same stands for interested parties/individuals in this state that want to learn about aquaponics or have a system installed on their property; knowing who is closest to them so as to keep things as local and connected as possible, will help all of us stay afloat both financially and sustainably.

If you are an aquaponic farmer anywhere in washington please reply so I can expand this network. If you are even interested in aquaponics I encourage you to say hi so we here online AND in person can teach you. Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to meeting/conversing with any and all of you.

-Seth the Muskrat
 
Jeremiah Robinson
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Location: Madison, WI
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Hi Seth,

Have you reached out the Aquaponics Association?

I found a site called Washington Fish Growers.

There's also the Western Regional Aquaculture Center and some government folks.

I know there's a lot of activity in the PNW and BC in innovative aquaculture.

Always easier to work within existing structures if you can.

You're right that Hawaii is a bit unique in how collaborative everyone is. I think that's mainly thanks to Glenn and a few others.
 
Seth Connell
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Thank you Jeremiah!

I was unaware of the Washington Fish Growers Association. Myself as well as another committee member have contact the VP of the Aquaponics Association regarding the movement out here and have had NO RESPONCE. He is the western regional director so maybe he's busy, but we have A LOT on our plate. I'm teaching a FREE class on Aquaponics at Seattle Tilth's Urban Farm in Rainier Beach on February 14th along with their farm director Anthony. The address there is 5513 S. Cloverdale st. The time of the class it yet to be determined but I'll update here when we figure it out.

The Western Regional Aquaculture Center's Washington representative is the Director of UW's aquaculture and fisheries program. I may be mistaken, but from the information I have gatherred from Seattle Tilth, he (Dr. Walt Dickhoff (The chair of the organization)) is the man responsible for decommissioning the University of Washington's aquaponics system and implementing strict regulations AGAINST AQUAPONICS ever being taught there in the future. The WRAC does not have one of Aquaponics main Aquaculture proponents (Dr. Benny-Ron from University of Hawaii) or ANYONE from the Hawaii scene involved in their operations, so it's no surprise to me they banned aquapopnics from being taught. The very same system in question was dismantled and donated by the University to Seattle Tilth and will be the system I'll be giving the class on. From what I saw yesterday I can see why he made that decision.

This system was poorly designed and has a few flaws that I will point out during the lesson on Feb 14th through before and after pictures. In the coming weeks I'll be training staff there on how to properly setup/maintain the system and hope to have it in fine operation by the day of the class, so that whoever shows up can see a working system first hand. As it was, the system was operating at MAYBE 40% grow-out capacity. I hope to have the correct ratio of grow-out space established and BMP's in place to keep their system at optimal efficiency and sustainably so with minimal cost.

BC has A LOT of awesome work going on, INDEED!!! Their gravity fed hatchery is amazing! 'You Grow Food Aquaponics' in Hope BC is a great resource and only a 6 hour drive from Seattle. The country out there is INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL and will captivate you, so focus on the road and have passenger take pics if you make it up that way.

I've been working day to day contacting everyone I can out here, and it's no easy task. Thank you very much for the links. I hope they lead to more network connections. With each passing week my work-load is doubling and it's very exciting! The more people who learn and invest in aquaponics right now, the better. I feel like I'm on a treadmill and the computer is increasing the speed each hour. It's a good thing I'm a runner! lol. Anyways, thanks again for the response and if you can make it out to the class on the 14th it'd be great to meet you.

-Seth

 
Jeremiah Robinson
Posts: 92
Location: Madison, WI
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Sounds like you're putting in the leg work. Hopefully it'll bear fruit. Have you tried contacting Meg from the AA directly? She's fairly responsive, and would probably love to hear that you're beating the bushes.

I'm from Wisconsin and broke, so not likely to make it to a class

I don't know Walt, but I do know that in the US - at least on the mainland - there's a growing sense with many people that the aqua-shysters have taken over and all the information out their is dishonest self-promotion. I don't think that's the whole story, but there is some truth to it. He could be reacting to that sentiment.

My experience with fish farmers is that they're largely a salt-of-the-earth humble bunch who I often hear say things like "I've been growing fish for 30 years and still have a lot to learn." When they meet some aquaponic (or RAS) upstart saying something like "I've been doing aquaponics three years and now I'm an aquaponics engineer / guru and would you like some consulting?" they can be turned off.

All that's to say if I were you I'd try and take a humble approach, under-promise and over-deliver, and be patient for the first few years. If aquaponics proves commercially viable in the PNW folks will come round.

I'd love to meet you too someday.

peace,

Jeremiah
 
Seth Connell
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Thanks for the advice! I definitely know what you mean with regard to their demeanor and superiority perspective. If I've learned anything from my certification classes and experience with people who used to work in aquaculture it's that multiple decade long case studies by the EPA have proven that ALMOST all mariculture efforts and net pen aquaculture programs have destroyed native pelagic species populations due to massive amount of antibiotics used and waste that collects under the pens. I'm not trashing their field of study, but am pointing out things that have to change.

I'm a bit of a futurist in the regard that over the course of my life I've seen rivers run relatively dry of trout and salmon from when I was a kid to now. I've payed close attention to the depletion of our fisheries in the whole country and had in depth conversations with scientists in the field that support my observations and analysis. IF overfishing continues we have roughly 15 years until most fish species are extinct. If you also factor in the potentialities of heightened oil pipe-line expansion including more oil rigs, new oil freighter shipping lines, etc, and the risk of capsizing/fracking disasters then that might shave off a few years from that 15 year estimate. It is therefor ESSENTIAL that we continue to expand Aquaculture programs and assimilate them with genetic retention efforts to keep most or all water dwelling species alive. Even if they are bred in captivity and not released for 100 years (as sad as that makes me) it gives our civilization (what remains of it after food-chain collapse) a chance to clean up our mess, plug the oil holes in the sea-beds, and begin to disperse the stored genetics via advanced hatcheries.

As we have learned through previous efforts, releasing raised fish into the wild has proven mostly futile as they have NO IDEA how to survive. We are going to have to preserve the sciences and methods involved with hatcheries in order to introduce NEWBORN FINGERLINGS directly into the streams and rivers their ancestors currently/previously swam and spawned in. They say nature always has a way of fixing things and that instinct plays a role in every creatures life. Yes, raised fish have the instincts of raised fish not wild ones; but raised fish eggs born in the wild have much better odds for survival if you ask me. I haven't found any research studies or academic articles on that exact topic so it is PURE HYPOTHESIS and I have no evidence to back it up. It's part of my hope that humans will reverse the damage we have done to this planet instead of finishing it and ourselves off.

I'm not claiming to be the greatest mind in aquaponics by any means. My mentor Glenn Martinez, Murray Hallam, Will Allen, and this gentleman I'll be visiting on Whidbey island who has had his Aquaponics system running for 10 years are the greatest minds to me. Experience builds character and wisdom. I have a fraction of what they do, but relative to anyone else in this state it seems like I'm more knowledgable than most; which I find kind of unfortunate. I had high hopes for washington already being ahead of the curve, because this state has always prided itself on it's sustainability and green-mindedness. It was quite a suprise when I found out that almost nobody even knows what aquaponics is. I'm aiming to change that, and to do it fast. There isn't much time (15 years goes fast) to do what needs to be done.

It's a shame that the ancient ways of permaculture were abandoned 100 some odd years ago for industrial agriculture and deadly monocultures. Tilling this planets soils has destroyed some of the finest mycelial networks ever known to exist on this planet, and the continued tilling has prevented those supplemental nutrient networks from ever re-establishing themselves. That in turn has led to forests taking longer to bounce-back from forestry clear cuts, and logging endeavors. I could go on and on, and I'm sure you and others here know all about how permaculture, mycoremediation, and aquaponics can all feed eachother in order to drastically speed up restoration efforts of natural habitats on this planet. I have to get going to meet up with a client, so yeah.

One day it would be nice to make it out to your side of the sticks in Wisconsin. I'm hard at work on my companies website where we will have FREE online education for everything I have learned as well as hypothetical classes based on ideas and concepts that my team and I have rendered viable. I'll keep the permies here posted. Take care and mahalo nui loa for keeping this thread going.

-seth
 
Blair Buchmayer
Posts: 9
Location: PNW, Seattle area
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Has anything more been decided with this class? I was interested in taking it, but do not see it on the Seattle Tilth page. Thanks!
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
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Location: Western Washington
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Hey Seth, one of the interns I worked with back in the day was really into Aquaponics. From Hawaii too for that matter. Last I heard he was studying fluid dynamics in Tacoma at... Pacific Lutheran? I don't remember. Anyway I personally would be interested in learning more about the subject and hearing more about what you do.
 
Seth Connell
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Yes! The link to the facebook page for the event is below:

https://www.facebook.com/events/522964834513055/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular

The free class is on valentines day from 8am-9:30am. Hope to see you there and anyone you bring.
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
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Location: Western Washington
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This is an all day/overnight event?
 
Seth Connell
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It is not an all day or overnight class. Just 90 minutes long from 8:00am until 9:30am in the morning on saturday feb 14th, 2015.
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
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Location: Western Washington
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Ah, well then it is miss labeled on the event page or else someones exuding subliminal optimism.
 
Brittany Stokes
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My husband and I just moved to Bellingham WA and want to start an aquaponic farm asap. I am finding it difficult as well to find anyone out there that either has a system or knows about aquaponics. I am very interested in buying some land on whidbey island and would love to talk to someone that already has a successful set up there. Would it be possible to speak with that man you mentioned on whidbey?
 
John Rogers
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Seth, if you're still monitoring this topic, are you in contact with Ulysses Martin in Tacoma? He's an Evergreen student that is deeply involved with permaculture and aquaponics in the Tacoma area. He and his team were finalists in the Tacoma Green Infrastructure Challenge earlier this year.

Message me and I'll send you his email address.

John
 
Alyssa Tidwell
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Seth,
I may be replying a year too late, but I'll go out on a limb here and try anyway.
I'm an independent, self studying individual highly interested in permaculture, design and aquaponic systems. Currently my knowledge in these subjects is basic, I read as many books as I can from the library.
I firmly believe these systems/methodologies are a vital key to restoring balance to our struggling planet.
I read in this forum that you were providing a free class a while back, are you still providing this to the public? If so, I'm very interested in learning from you.
If you're not providing such a class but have any additional information to pass on about these practices, I'd love to hear from you.

-Alyssa
 
We noticed he had no friends. So we gave him this tiny ad:
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