Us, for the moment, is limited to me, Frank.
I hope that soon this team will be reinforced by others who believe in AquaPonics and wish to help me spread the idea and the knowledge.
Me, Frank, I live in Belgium, in the Flemish part, in a suburb of Ghent named Drongen.
I first became interested in AquaPonics four years ago, after following an "introduction to Aquaculture" course at the Hogeschool Zeeland, in Flushing, The Netherlands.
After a career in designing, manufacturing, installing and servicing central cleaning and disinfection systems for the food industry, I was looking for a new challenge.
Though indeed very fascinating, the conclusions I came to after the course on Aquaculture were a disappointment to me:
It appeared that for relatively small scale consumer oriented Aquaculture our outdoor climate here in Flanders is not ideal (too warm in summer for trout, too cold in winter for other species), so one must go indoors to a controlled environment.
This also means one must go intensive as the costs of an indoor facility are important.
To have a chance of survival in intensive Aquaculture, such a facility requires an investment of about 1.000.000 €.
You then have a "fish factory" which, to my liking, resembles too much the industrial pig and poultry farms where all is sacrificed to economics and commercial success, at the expense of animal welfare and the farmer's life quality.
With such an investment, little choice is left but to follow that road.
Freshwater fish are not very popular around here. Pollution of the rivers has made people distrust them over time as it made them scarce and a hazard to consume.
With the possible exception of eels, the general public is not familiar with freshwater fish for consumption any more.
Under these conditions, intensive Aquaculture of freshwater fish is almost sure to end in disaster: a nonexistent market is bound to be flooded immediately.
Culinary restaurants are a different matter:
Their chefs are constantly on the lookout for high quality fresh produce and original recipes both new and old to keep their customers interested.
That for them is the key to success. It is what keeps them attractive and in business.
They are rediscovering freshwater fish.
There sure is a niche market for small scale Aquaculture there.
Ghent, my home town, has some world famous culinary specialties, the main one being the "Gentse Waterzooi", now known as a vegetable and chicken soup.
Not many people know that this "poor man's" stew was originally prepared with freshwater fish.
Before pollution fish were abundant in ponds, lakes and rivers.
All one needed was a stick, a rope, a hook, some bait, and patience to provide a high protein meal for his family.
Pollution is what led to replacing freshwater fish with this other (meanwhile cheap) alternative: chicken meat (cheapest are end of cycle egg laying hens, their meat is only good for stewing).
On one of my strolls on the Internet I came across the word "AquaPonics", the sustainable combined breeding of plants and fish in a closed circuit mimicking nature.
This concept immediately grabbed my attention: it matched perfectly the challenge I was seeking.
I now had a small scale niche market, a historic recipe and a sustainable production method.
Studying AquaPonics has turned me from interested to adept to addict. Many friends from all over the world on forums are responsible for this.
Thanks, guys, I have enjoyed every second of the trip.
To the best of my knowledge the information I present is accurate. All pages on this website © Hygicell 2009