Sunday, 13 September 2020

US Wildfires Could Affect Canada's Food Supply Chain


Wednesday, 1 April 2020

This Pandemic is Putting Our Food Supply at Risk

The Globe and Mail is reporting that Canada’s food supply at risk as pandemic tightens borders to farm workers. The coronavirus pandemic is making it difficult for farmers to bring in temporary workers to plant crops on time, a problem that threatens Canada’s food supply. Time is of the essence. Spring is here – seeds need to be planted, orchard trees pruned and thinned, fields prepped for the season, equipment fixed and irrigation systems set up. Each year, tens of thousands of workers do the jobs many Canadians have traditionally avoided. Though legally allowed to enter Canada, the majority have not yet arrived. Without labour soon, yields could fall, affecting Canada’s food supply.

The United States may face similar problems. CNBC reports that the coronavirus policies are hitting already struggling US farmers. The pandemic has sent U.S. farmers into a panic after it further drove down crop and livestock prices and raised concerns about labor shortages on farms. Farm trade groups are lobbying the Trump administration to give financial aid for farmers enduring price drops, as well as timely visas for seasonal workers from Mexico who will pick crops on U.S. farms this year. 

It's time to start growing your own food.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

2019 Aquaponics Association Food Safety Statement

The Aquaponics Association presents the 2019 Aquaponics Food Safety Statement, signed by over 130 organizations, including 98 from the U.S. This statement explains the food safety credentials of produce grown in aquaponic systems.

PDF version: 2019 Aquaponics Food Safety Statement

Originally published on the Aquaponics Association website

December 9, 2019
Aquaponics Food Safety Statement

Established Science Confirms Aquaponic Fish and Produce are Food Safe

Aquaponics is a food production method integrating fish and plants in a closed, soil-less system. This symbiotic relationship mimics the biological cycles found in nature. Aquaponics has been used as a farming technique for thousands of years and is now seeing large-scale viability to feed a growing global population.

Benefits of aquaponics include dramatically less water use; no toxic chemical fertilizers or pesticides; no agriculture discharge to air, water or soil; and less food miles when systems are located near consumers where there is no arable soil.

Aquaponics has consistently proven to be a safe method to grow fresh, healthy fish, fruits, and vegetables in any environment. Governments and food safety certifiers must utilize the most current, accurate information to make food safety decisions about aquaponics at this time when our food systems adapt to a growing population and environmental concerns.

Food Safety Certification for Aquaponics

For years, commercial aquaponic farms have obtained food safety certification from certifying bodies such as Global GAP, USDA Harmonized GAP, Primus GFS, and the SQF Food Safety Program. Many aquaponic farms are also certified USDA Organic. These certifying bodies have found aquaponics to be a food safe method for fish, fruits, and vegetables. As far back as 2003, researchers found aquaponic fish and produce to be consistently food safe (Rakocy, 2003; Chalmers, 2004).  Aquaponic fish and produce continue to be sold commercially across North America following all appropriate food safety guidelines.

Recent Certification Changes Based on Unfounded Concerns

Recently, Canada GAP, a food safety certifier, announced that it will phase out certification of aquaponic operations in 2020, citing concerns about the potential for leafy greens to uptake contaminants found in aquaponic water.

Correspondence with Canada GAP leadership revealed that the decision to revoke aquaponics certification eligibility was based on research and literature surveys related to the uptake of pharmaceutical and pathogenic contaminants in hydroponic systems. However, these concerns are unfounded based on the established evidence.

First, the Canada GAP decision assumes that aquaponic growers use pharmaceuticals to treat fish, and that these pharmaceuticals would be taken up by plants causing a food safety risk.

In fact, pharmaceuticals are not compatible with aquaponics. Aquaponics represents an ecosystem heavily dependent on a healthy microorganism community (Rinehart, 2019; Aquaponics Association, 2018). The pharmaceuticals and antibiotics referenced by Canada GAP would damage the beneficial microorganisms required for aquaponics to function properly.

Second, the CanadaGAP decision misrepresents the risk of pathogenic contamination. Aquaponic produce – like all produce – is not immune to pathogenic contamination. However, aquaponics is in fact one of the safest agriculture methods against pathogenic risk. Most pathogenic contamination in our modern agriculture system stems from bird droppings, animal infestation, and agriculture ditch or contaminated water sources. In contrast, commercial aquaponic systems are “closed-loop” and usually operated in controlled environments like greenhouses. Almost all operations use filtered municipal or well water and monitor everything that enters and leaves the system.

Aquaponics and Food Safety

If practiced appropriately, aquaponics can be one of the safest methods of food production. The healthy microbes required for aquaponics serve as biological control agents against pathogenic bacteria. (Fox, 2012) The healthy biological activity of an aquaponic system competitively inhibits human pathogens, making their chances for survival minimal. This is, in effect, nature’s immune system working to keep our food safe, rather than synthetic chemicals.

The Government of Alberta, Canada ran extensive food safety tests in aquaponics from 2002 to 2010 at the Crop Diversification Centre South (CDC South) and observed no human pathogenic contamination during this entire eight-year period (Savidov, 2019, Results available upon request). As a result of this study, the pilot-scale aquaponic operation at CDC South was certified as a food safe operation in compliance with Canada GAP standards in May 2011 (GFTC OFFS Certification, May 26, 2011). Similar studies conducted by University of Hawaii in 2012 in a commercial aquaponic farm revealed the same results. (Tamaru, 2012)

Current aquaponic farms must be able to continuously prove their food safety. The U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act requires farms to be able to demonstrate appropriate mitigation of potential sources of pathogenic contamination as well as water testing that validates waters shared with plants are free from contamination by zoonotic organisms. So, if there is a food safety concern in aquaponics, food safety certifiers will find and document it.


The recent certification decision from Canada GAP has already set back commercial aquaponic operations in Canada and has the potential to influence other food safety certifiers or create unfounded consumer concerns. At a time when we need more sustainable methods to grow our food, it is essential to work on greater commercial-government collaboration and scientific validation to ensure fact-based food safety standards.

In order to expand the benefits of aquaponics, we need a vibrant commercial sector. And for commercial aquaponics to succeed, we need reliable food safety certification standards based on established science.

Consumers can feel secure knowing that when they purchase aquaponic fish and produce, they are getting fresh food grown in one of the safest, most sustainable methods possible.


The Aquaponics Association, along with the undersigned entities


Gardens on Air – A Local Farm, Inc.
Southern Organics

AONE Aquaponics
Fresh Farm Aquaponics
Go Fish Farm
SchoolGrown Aquaponics
Seouchae Natural Farming
Shwava, Inc.
University of California, Davis

The Aquaponic Source
Bountyhaus School Farms
Colorado Aquaponics
Dahlia Campus for Health and Wellness Aquaponic Farm
Ecoponex Systems International LLC
Emerge Aquaponics
Flourish Farms @ The GrowHaus
Grand Valley Greens, LLC
GroFresh Farms 365
Northsider Farms LLC

Marine Bait Wholesale

Aquaponics AI

The Aquaponics Doctors, Inc.
Aquaponic Lynx LLC
The Family Farm
GreenView Aquaponics, LLC
Sahib Aquaponics
Traders Hill Farm

FM Aquaponic Farm
Georgia Aquaponic Produce LLC
TRC Aquaponics
Ula Farms

Friendly Aquaponics, LLC


Central Illinois Aquaponics

Janelle Hager, Kentucky State University
K&L Organics
Purple Thumb Farms
West KY Aquaponics

Small Scale Aquaponics

Aquaponics Academy
Lesley University
O’Maley Innovation Middle School

Anne Arundel Community College
Greenway Farms, LLC


Menagerie Greens Inc.

North Carolina
Grace Goodness Aquaponics Farm, LLC
100 Gardens

New Hampshire
University of New Hampshire

New York
iGrow News
Oko Farms

New Mexico
Desert Verde Farm
Growing the Greens
High Desert Aquaponics
Howling Coyote Farms
Lettuce, Etc. LLC
Project Urban Greenhouse
Sanctuary at ABQ
Santa Fe Community College

Berean Aquaponic Farms and Organics LLC
CHCA Eagle Farms
Wildest Farms
Williams Dairy Farms

Freedom FFA
Greener Grounds LLC

Alternative Youth Activity
Ingenuity Innovation Center
Live Local Organic
Triskelee Farm

Aquaponics at State High
Yehudah Enterprises LLC

Puerto Rico
Fusion Farms
Granja Ecologica Pescavida

Rhode Island
The Cascadia Bay Company

Great Head LLC

BioDiverse Technologies LLC
BnE Enterprises
East Texas Aquaponics, LLC
Gentlesoll Farm
HannaLeigh Farm
K&E Texan Landscaping
King’s Farm
Tarleton State University, Aquaponics Hydrotron
West Texas Organic Gardening

Aquaponics Olio
Wasatch High School

Grace Aquaponics
INMED Partnerships for Children
Return to Roots Farm

The Mill ART Garden, LLP

The Farm Plan
Impact Horizon, Co.
Life Tastes Good LLC
Northwest Aquaponics LLC
Wind River Produce

Washington, DC
Anacostia Aquaponics DC LLC
P.R. Harris Food Hub


New South Wales
Wirralee Pastoral
Solum Farm


Chhuyang – Aquaponics in Bhutan


Rio Grande do Norte
Habitat Marte

Santa Catarina
Pedra Viva Aquicultura


Via Pontica Foundation


Agro Resiliency Kit (ARK) Ltd.
Fresh Flavor Ltd
Lethbridge College
W.G. Guzman Technical Services

British Colombia
Garden City Aquaponics Inc.
Green Oasis Foods Ltd.
Pontus Water Lentils Ltd.

Aquatic Growers
University of Guelph
Power From Within Clean Energy Society

ML Aquaponics Inc

Yukon Territory
North Star Agriculture


Central Laboratory for Aquaculture Research


Vegetal Grow Development


Prof Brahma Singh Horticulture Foundation, New Delhi

Blue’s and Green’s
Spacos Innovations Private Limited


Grow Up


Negeri Sembilan
BNS Aquafresh Farming


University of Abuja


Nueva Ecija
Central Luzon State University

Metro Manila, NCR
IanTim Aquaponics Farm


True Spirit Lda


Sectors 2 & 4
Bucharest Association of Romanian Aquaponics Society




Ucad Dakar


Aquaponics Singapore

Brian Filipowich, Aquaponics Association
Juli Ogden, The Farm Plan
Dr. Nick Savidov, Lethbridge College
Tawnya Sawyer, The Aquaponic Source
Dr. R. Charlie Shultz, Santa Fe Community College
Meg Stout, Independent

Brian Filipowich


Chalmers, 2004. Aquaponics and Food Safety. Retrieved from

Filipowich, Schramm, Pyle, Savage, Delanoy, Hager, Beuerlein. 2018. Aquaponic Systems Utilize the Soil Food Web to Grow Healthy Crops. Aquaponics Association.

Fox, Tamaru, Hollyer, Castro, Fonseca, Jay-Russell, Low. A Preliminary Study of Microbial Water Quality Related to Food Safety in Recirculating Aquaponic Fish and Vegetable Production Systems. Publication of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, the Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, University of Hawaii, February 1, 2012.

Rakocy, J.E., Shultz, R.C., Bailey, D.S. and Thoman, E.S.  (2003). Aquaponic production of tilapia and basil:  comparing a batch and staggered cropping system.  South Pacific Soilless Culture Conference. Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Rinehart, Lee. Aquaponics – Multitrophic Systems, 2019. ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture. National Center for Appropriate Technology.

Tamaru, Fox, Hollyer, Castro, Low, 2012. Testing for Water Borne Pathogens at an Aquaponic Farm. Publication of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, the Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, University of Hawaii, February 1, 2012.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Bad News on the Certification Front for Aquaponics in Canada

The following is a from the Aquaponics Association chairman Brian Filopowich:

A negative situation is brewing in Canada that could spread across borders and set back aquaponics’ progress worldwide.

CanadaGAP, a government-recognized food safety certification program, stated that it will withdraw CanadaGAP certification for Aquaponic production effective March 31, 2020.

Unfortunately, the decision appears to be based on faulty and/or incomplete information:

“New information has come to light related to potential chemical hazards (antibiotics, for example) associated with aquaponic production. Further, there may be potential for leafy greens to uptake possible contaminants found in the water from the aquaculture production. Unfortunately, peer-reviewed scientific studies are limited at this time.”

This decision strikes at the heart of all aquaponic growers. We must publish and maintain trustworthy information about our practice to ensure institutional support, rather than opposition.

The Aquaponics Association is currently working with experts to compile the information needed to counter the false assumptions. We will make this information public as soon as possible. Please stay tuned.

In the meantime, do you have information or data that supports the food safety of aquaponics? Email us at

At the Putting Out Fruits Conference this September 20-22, we will talk about actions we can take together to support the advancement of aquaponics. And we’ll discuss what our message needs to be to food safety regulators and other policy-makers that affect our practice.

We’re all in this together!

Brian Filipowich, Chairman
Aquaponics Association

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Decoupled Aquaponics

Why Decoupled Aquaponics
Most aquaponic systems are single loop and fully recirculating. This means that the fish and plants exist in a single loop and share the same nutrient rich water. The reason these are the most popular is because they are simple to build and operate. But single loop systems are also a compromise because the plants, fish and bacteria must all be happy in the same solution. So for example, the temperature and pH levels must be maintained at levels that satisfy all the organisms, rather than being optimized for each.
pH is maintained in a range to satisfy fish, plants and bacteria in a single loop system
In a dual loop system, these parameters can be maintained optimally at different levels in each loop. Additionally, if something goes wrong, there are more options to address the situation without affecting everything in the system. So for example, if pests need to be treated on the plant side, it can be done without adversely affecting the fish.

How Decoupled Systems Work
A typical decoupled system consists of a stand-alone RAS (recirculating aquaculture system) loop and a hydroponic plant loop. The sludge from the RAS system is digested in the biological waste system which provides the nutrients for the hydroponic system. Using a digester makes the system more efficient because the nutrients plants need (aside from Nitrogen) are trapped in the solid waste. The aerobic digester (a fancy term for a simple tank with air-stones in it) mineralizes the solid waste, releasing the nutrients the plants need.

A Simple Decoupled System
A small decoupled system can be very easy to build and operate. If an AST bead filter is used, the fish loop is reduced to two components (fish tank and bead filter) because bead filter combines both bio-filtration and very efficient mechanical filtration. It also makes the system very easy to maintain and operate because it is self-cleaning. The following video shows simple the decoupled system can be with an AST bead filter.

The Heart of the System: AST Polygeyser Bead Filter
Although the video above shows a smaller endurance filter, the AST Polygeyser 3 cubic foot automatic backwash bead filter can be used to build a similar system that supports up to 60 mof plant area (900 gallon fish tank with up to 4.5 pounds of feed per day input).

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Urban Organics is Closing

We have written about the Urban Aquaponics in the past. It is located in an old brewery in St. Paul. The sad news is that it is now closing completely by June 14 and letting go 27 employees according to an article in the Star Tribune.

David Haider, left, explains the operation to St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman
The company was founded in 2013 Dave and Kristen Haider as a smaller operation that catered to local chefs. Pentair approached the couple several years ago about a potential partnership and this led to the massive expansion at the Schmidt Brewery, which was heralded as one of the world’s largest commercial aquaponics systems when it opened in 2017. Pentair bought out the founders, becoming the sole owner, a year ago.

A Pentair spokeswoman said “the realization of the business model did not meet our expectations.” They also said this decision isn’t an indictment on indoor aquaculture as a whole. “We continue to believe there is a long-term strategy for aquaponics in urban areas, however the realization of the business model did not meet our expectations”

Click here for a virtual tour of the facility.

Read more about the closure here ... 

Monday, 22 April 2019

Friday, 15 March 2019

Vertical Indoor Aquaponics Project In the Yukon

Yukon's North Star Agriculture is planning to build an indoor vertical aquaponics farm in the Yukon at a cost of $8 million dollars. The proposed farm will be located near the Takhini Hot Pools so that geothermal energy can be used to reduce energy costs by at least a third. The farm would not only produce fish and plants, but would also generate income from agro-tourism.

Matt Douglas and Sonny Gray of North Star Agriculture, with development permits to begin building an aquaponics facility in the Takhini hot springs area. (North Star Agriculture, source
The Whitehorse company is partnering with and receiving some funding from Edmonton-based NutraPonics. They also hope to partner with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation.


Chief Andy Carvill of Carcross-Tagish First Nation says he's confident construction will begin soon. (David Common/ CBC)

Friday, 15 February 2019

Making BC's Salmon Farms More Sustainable

The federal government is keen to help transition B.C. salmon farms to designs and technologies that address nagging environmental concerns, says Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. The key is to address the huge cost difference between net-pen farms and alternative systems by supporting the development of sustainable farms, he said.

“There may be levers we can pull to help close that gap in the same way that we did with solar and renewable energy over the past couple of decades,” the North Vancouver MP said in an interview.

A fast-tracked study of aquaculture technology — funded by the federal and provincial governments with the participation of First Nations and the aquaculture industry — will help identify how that support will be applied.

The study, to be delivered in May, will look at ways the industry around the world is able to minimize interaction between wild and farmed salmon, including land-based farms, ocean-based closed containment, and open-ocean and off-shore farms.

Federal Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says that with better technology ‘there is an opportunity to significantly grow the industry and make Canada an even bigger player in aquaculture.
“Based on what we find, there will be opportunities for the government to participate in large-scale and medium-scale demonstrations of technology that looks promising — that’s exactly what Sustainable Development Technology Canada does,” said Wilkinson.

With better technology “there is an opportunity to significantly grow the industry and make Canada an even bigger player in aquaculture,” he said.

Canada’s economic strategy calls for aquaculture production to nearly double from 2016’s output of 200,000 tonnes to 382,000 tonnes by 2028. This province produces more than two-thirds of Canada’s farmed salmon and it is B.C.’s biggest value food export by a wide margin.

The study, and the creation of Canada’s first aquaculture act, signal a new dedication to “the precautionary principle,” said Wilkinson.

“We are moving toward area-based management which means moving to sites that are more environmentally suitable, where communities are supportive and — in the long run — looking at closed-containment technology and how we get to the point where those (designs) are economically viable,” said Wilkinson.

Read more here (source The Province)

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Aquaponic Evening Workshop at UBC Farm March 21, 2019

This 1.5 hour workshop is an introduction to Aquaponics. It will be held at the UBC farm and is only $25 for students ($29 regular price). Click to find out more

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Update on Aquaponic Organic Certification in Canada

Recently, the Standards Council of Canada published a new organic standard for aquaculture to help make organic seafood more widely recognizable. However, this label presents its own set of challenges when it comes to organic certification. Most importantly, vegetables and fruits grown in aquaponic systems can be certified organic under the organic aquaculture standard, even though this would not be allowed under the Canadian Organic Standards (COS). Understandably, this has created some challenges.

Under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, aquaponic products can now be legally labelled as organic if they are certified by an approved certifying body in accordance with the organic aquaculture standard. According to the CFIA, producers are encouraged to provide voluntary information about which standard the product was certified under. Organic labelling is necessary if a company wishes to export its products outside of its province of production. However, since aquaponics are newly regulated, aquaponic producers will get a grace period of 24 months once the Regulations come into effect on Jan. 15, 2019, during which organic producers will not have to be certified.

Original Source: by Will Baigent & Cecilia Stuart

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

10,000 Square Foot Indoor Vertical Aquaponics Farm in Calgary

Deepwater Farms in Calgary raises 900 kilograms of Australian sea bass (or barramundi) every month. The waste is broken down with micro-organisms to create nitrates that fertilize the more than a million seedlings grown less than every two weeks under LED lights in the facility. They were recently featured in this CBC video and article.

Deepwater supplies the top restaurants in Calgary with baby kale, arugula, watercress, red pac choi, mustard greens.


Friday, 16 November 2018

Only One Third Of Canada's Fish Stocks are Healthy and They Continue to Decline

Oceana Canada's 2018 Fishery Audit is available for download here.

Below is an executive summary:

Oceana Canada’s first annual Fishery Audit in 2017 revealed that our fish stocks are not delivering nearly as much as they could, for oceans or for people.

In 2017, only one-third of our stocks were considered healthy. Of the 26 critically depleted populations, only three had rebuilding plans in place. Big gaps remained in the data required to manage stocks effectively.

One year later, some progress has been made. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has made significant investments in federal fisheries science, and the department continues to increase transparency by releasing its annual Sustainability Survey for Fisheries and departmental work plans.

However, much more work needs to be done if our seafood industry is going to reach its potential.

Recent investments in federal fisheries science capacity has not yet yielded measurable change in the reported metrics. DFO is falling behind on implementing work plans developed in response to the Auditor General’s 2016 report. For example, four of five rebuilding plans promised by March 2018 remain incomplete. Key policy instruments have not been fully implemented or remain in draft form, including the proposed Fishery Monitoring Policy. Meanwhile, scientific and management information produced by DFO is often published late or not at all.

On the water, there have been few changes in stock health. This is to be expected: it takes time for investments in science and policy to be reflected in measurable changes in the abundance of fish populations. However, the slow pace of policy implementation means the long-term decline in Canada’s fish stocks has not yet been halted, let alone reversed.

Oceana Canada has recommended specific actions — detailed here — to address issues raised in this Audit. These include completing work plans and rebuilding plans, filling data gaps and finalizing a national catch-monitoring policy.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Charlie Shultz Interview - Sustainable Controlled Environment Food Production

This is episode 23 of the Get in My Garden Podcast. Today we have another very special episode. The subject is Controlled Environment Agriculture. We meet Charlie Shultz, a researcher, farmer and teacher; a pioneer in the field of aquaponics and lead faculty in the very impressive Controlled Environment Agriculture Program at Santa Fe Community College.

Charlie began working with fish and plants as an undergraduate at Virginia Tech while double majoring in Biology and Fishery Science. His work has sent him to many locations including 14 years at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, where he researched indoor aquaponics production and its many facets from nutrition and system economics.

We will cover a lot of topics from aquaponics systems vs hydroponics, their economics, food security and water supply challenges the world faces, and how these controlled environment agriculture systems are the solution.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

UN Warns of Overfishing as Per-Capita Consumption Hits All-time High

A new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that per capita fish consumption is above 20 kilograms a year for the first time. Almost a third of commercial fish stocks are now overharvested at biologically unsustainable levels. But the good news is that a growth in rapid aquaculture has helped on the supply side, but population growth and demand are still outpacing supply. This represents an opportunity for sustainable food productions systems like aquaponics.

Download the full report here

This chart shows the increasing rate of overfishing

This chart shows how aquaculture has made up the difference for the increasing demand