How much are we actually growing?

What percentage of fresh fruits n’ veggies consumed within DC is grown within DC?
a) <1%
b) 1% – 5%
c) 5% – 10%
d) >10%
e) no one knows

Washington, DC is doing some great things for urban agriculture. For more info, check out the DC Sustainability 2.0 Report, or the Food System Assessment. We also recently created an Office for Urban Agriculture.

But a lot more work needs to be done. An old adage: “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. Here’s some questions we should answer:

How much are we actually growing as a percentage of our consumption? what are we growing? and what is our goal?

What percentage of food grown in DC is edible, and what resources are needed to improve our growing skills and grow better fruits n’ veggies?

One issue is that policy-makers nationwide continually underestimate the skills and resources necessary to grow high-quality crops consistently… it’s very hard! Unfortunately this is the problem UDC ran into over the last few years.

Answering these questions will inform the next steps we take to improve urban ag in DC!

Brian Filipowich, Director
Anacostia Aquaponics DC LLC

Visit to South Mountain MicroFARM

We had a great visit to a VERY impressive aquaponic system at South Mountain MicroFARM in Boonsboro, MD.

This farm uses aquaponics for commercial crops like lettuce, which are sold locally. Aquaponics allows the farm to use only one-eighth of the land and one-tenth of the water as the same crops grown in soil!

Aquaponics Visit from Nigeria!

A warm Washington, DC welcome to Professor Ayoola Akinwole (pictured right) from the University of Ibadan in Ibadan, Nigeria!

Professor Akinwole is here to take our Small-scale Aquaponics Training Course. While in town, we will also be visiting other aquaponics sites including South Mountain Microfarm, the University of Maryland Envi-Sci & Tech Department, Cultivate the City’s H Street Farms (pictured), IDEA Public Charter School, and maybe UDC.

After DC, Professor Akinwole will travel to Tennessee to view more aquaponics attractions.

Tilapia on IDEA School Rooftop

We just moved 12 donated tilapia to the IDEA Public Charter School Rooftop for a new aquaponic system (some are 5 years old!) We are gradually improving their environment and water conditions to make them feel at home.

Luckily, we have an electric water heater because it’s gotten so cold lately! … tilapia are native to Africa and prefer warm water.

We’ve been feeding them a very very limited diet before we establish a good biofilter. Plus they’ll still be stressed from the move and new environment

We have to get the system planted ASAP to start sucking nutrients out of the water.

Want to learn more? You’re in luck! — we have a Small-scale Aquaponics Training Course coming up in a few weeks! Learn more:

Small-scale Aquaponics Training Course

Small-Scale Aquaponics Training Course & Certificate

This Spring, Anacostia Aquaponics is presenting a Small-Scale Aquaponics Training Course and Certificate Program. Learn more: Small-Scale Aquaponics Training Course and Certificate Program

The Course is designed to provide participants the skills and knowledge necessary to understand and meaningfully participate in the design, construction, and operation of a small-scale aquaponic system (about 30- to 500-gallons)

The course consists of 5 classes, each offered on multiple dates. Participants that attend all 5 classes will be awarded a Small-Scale Aquaponics Training Course Certificate of Completion from Anacostia Aquaponics.

Learn more: Small-Scale Aquaponics Training Course and Certificate Program

Potomac Aquaponics Conference (4/4)

Business Development was the last issue we identified at the Potomac Aquaponics Conference last Fall.

Commercial aquaponics ventures have high upfront costs, and must manage multiple sides of the business: fish and plants.

We identified municipal business development agencies, the USDA, and agriculture colleges as possible collaborators in developing the commercial side of aquaponics.

 

Potomac Aquaponics Conference (3/4)

The aquaponics trailer was a highlight of the Potomac Aquaponics Conference.

This trailer is a mobile educational tool that travels all over Virginia, which is why it is the perfect example for the next issue we identified at the conference: Education & Outreach.

We need to teach more people about the benefits of aquaponics, so that more people enter the industry and consumers understand the benefits of aquaponics produce.

This will need to be a large effort undertaken by the entire aquaponics community.

Potomac Aquaponics Conference (2/4)

Participants at the meeting identified three areas in which Potomac-region growers could advance aquaponics.

The first was food safety. We identified all the actors involved in aquaponics food safety, which turned out turned out to be a very long list! We identified:

  • farmers,
  • distributors,
  • retailers,
  • state departments of health,
  • state departments of agriculture,
  • the USDA,
  • the FDA,
  • fisheries, and
  • third-party auditors

Coordination will be critical among these groups to ensure consistency, fairness, and efficiency in aquaponics food safety regulation.

Stay tuned for more from the Potomac Aquaponics Association.

Potomac Aquaponics Conference (1/4)

Last Fall, Members of the Potomac Aquaponics Association met for a two-day conference to discuss advancing aquaponics in the Potomac region.

Represented at the meeting were: the national Aquaponics Association, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, the University of the District of Columbia, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia State University, Virginia Tech, and Anacostia Aquaponics DC LLC.

We identified three areas in which we could advance aquaponics in the Potomac region. Stay tuned for part 2!