A new partnership called AquaPlanet focuses on education about local food and the promotion of a rapidly emerging technology called aquaponics. Aquaponics combines elements of hydroponics and aquaculture, growing fish and vegetables in a recirculating, soil-less system.
AquaPlanet’s partners are a diverse group of professionals with backgrounds in science, entrepreneurism, business management, design and engineering, serving various locations throughout the US.
“Aquaponics is widely practiced around the world and is starting to come into its own here in the US,” said founder Bevan Suits, an industrial designer and author of The Aquaponics Guidebook. “We want to make it easy for people to understand how it can fit their situation, no matter what their resources are.”
The team includes Dr. Wayne Dorband, a Colorado-based entrepreneur with a PhD in aquaculture. Dorband is recognized as a pioneer in environmental business areas including environmental insurance and what is known as brownfield development. One of his firms is International Risk Group (IRG), which owns extensive industrial real estate holdings, including a former Ford factory in Lorain, Ohio. A plan to adapt the plant into an urban agriculture center is in development. “We have an active project also in Martinsville, Indiana, at a former Harmon Kardon plant. In Beaufort, South Carolina, we’re developing what will be the largest recirculating shrimp farm in North America. Here in Colorado we have several research projects that will prove the economic viability of aquaponics and aquaculture for urban areas,” he said. “What we’re really after is to bring food production back to our culture.” Dorband also pointed out that aquaponics is just one option in what is known as sustainable agriculture.
Another partner is Travis Hughey, a master marine mechanic who discovered aquaponics several years ago and invented what’s known as “barrelponics” using recycled plastic drums. “As a Christian, my motivation is to feed the hungry, starting with my own family,” he said. “Sustainable technology like aquaponics is the key. We’ve got to get people thinking like producers, not just consumers, and give them the tools to do it themselves.” Hughey’s expertise is in demand worldwide and he has projects in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. He is currently engineering a project in Yan Ji, China and is expected to begin another in Lebanon this fall.
“With Travis we have the opportunity to show that sustainable technology and local food cuts across political and cultural boundaries. This whole