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6 lessons i learned from maintaining an aquaponic system for over a decade

“All the world’s problems can be solved in a garden.”
Geoff Lawton

 family-friendly  aquaponic system in Barbados backyard

1. If farming were easy we all would do it

Food is our most basic need. So it stands to reason that farming should be profitable. However that’s not the case. I will point out why using 3 points below and then explain one solution to make farming profitable in Barbados.

2. We need to take a look at the big picture.

If it was an equation farming would equal (carbon/nitrogen) + photosynthesis = calories. Each of the 3 parts requires energy inputs to bring the product to point of consumption.

The source of all energy on earth is the sun and the general rule is; the quicker it can be harvested the more sustainable it is, while the longer it is stored the more harmful it becomes e.g. hours from solar panels vs. Thousands of years from gasoline.

DIY pondliner and stone dug out aquaponic fish tank

3. Control

Control the energy and you control civilization. Unfortunately older type, harmful energy is easier to control therefore it is the type of energy our current civilization is built upon.

Combining these three points with my experience in advocating food production in Barbados gives me a view of a successful agriculture network that I would like to shear with you. Only through shearing information can we get “agriculture for profit” commonplace.

companion planting wicking bed aquaponics

4. Food is life

Agriculture has a niche for everyone. The food economy is the backbone that the other economies, like financial and services are built upon. They are cashiers, pilots, research scientist, accountants all involved in getting that food to your plate. Primary producers e.g. a farmer controlling all aspects from seed to consumer encompasses all three parts of our main equation and is the most difficult niche of farming because tackling Mother Nature can be unpredictable and requires a level of critical thinking our school system quite frankly destroys by process of standardization.

The magic happens when primary production is done on the individual level rather than spread throughout world wide networks as cheap oil has allowed civilization to do for the last century.

5. Chemicals are new

Out of the 10,000 years we started agriculture only in the last 100 have we used chemicals and this allowed us to expand primary production to worldwide scales building out the food economy as a base for the other economies thereby creating endless jobs.

If you’ve made it this far you’ve come to the meat of the mater. My argument starts with World war two, it jump started industrial civilization thus giving us a start and end point to measure it by.

6. How did the supermarket take over?

How was this done? World war two created the conditions favourable to move the world to chemical agriculture. First removing farmer’s support systems e.g. Horse was no longer primary means of transportation therefore limiting access to horse manure, while secondly providing massive amounts of chemicals to the masses. International laws also prevented research on chemical weapons so the scientist used agriculture as a mask to hide operations, evidence in every insecticide having a lethal human dose. And fertilizers are still used to make munitions.

Its not a long term solution

Also most farmers were turned into solders and the few farmers left had to produce way more food with the pressure of bombs dropping around them, chemical usage in agriculture provided the necessary temporary spike in food production at the time needed and we kept that chemical support system from then on-wards. This thinking has given chemistry the lead over biology in farming, remember our main equation? But in fact, the chemical end results are all from natural micro-biological processes. Chemicals are man made salts and kill the micro-biological aspect of our equation by osmosis, the same way salts kill slugs. Without the microbiology farmers will have to use more and more, chemical energy to get the same amount of produce.

heirloom seed saving container

Peak oil in one sentence

Problem is if it takes 100,000 years to make and 1 hour to burn you’re going to run out, and we are running out. Peak oil is real and it is here.

Aquaponics in one sentence

Aquaponics really is just a natural ecosystem held in a man made container

The technology of Aquaponics offers a backbone suited for long term civilization by providing; access to quick energy and builds microbiology rather than destroy it. It uses electricity to provide conditions favorable for all aspects of our main equation. Being based in science the results are measurable and repeatable. It can be an integral part of the solution to our coming problems.

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