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'Gathering' of Metroplex aquaponics enthusiasts scheduled Saturday, Dec. 4

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Dallas-Fort Worth area gardeners interested in aquaponics and sustainable backyard farming techniques will have regular monthly opportunities this year to meet other local residents interested in this efficient method of “green growing.”

The newly-organized Dallas Chapter of the national Aquaponics Association will hold a Saturday morning gathering, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 4, allowing participants to exchange information, talk about methods and the particulars of this science, work on projects and meet others who have built or would like to install backyard aquaponics systems. The response to sessions held last year was so positive that the local chapter has scheduled the first Saturday of each month as “gathering” day, according to organizer Dave Cohen.

Hosted by Green Phoenix Farms, a local aquaponics educational and systems design firm, at its location at 2636 National Circle in Garland, the Aquaponics Build/Project Day is offered free of charge, and anyone interested in the field is invited.

Cohen notes that there is ample space available to work on projects, and that those who attend are encouraged to bring their own parts and tools. If, however, you would like to pull up a chair and just watch – or if you seek information about the field of aquaponics, it is a time to ask questions, gather information, and learn informally from others who have built or are constructing their own systems.

Additional information is available through DFW Aquaponics, and advanced signups are encouraged.

The term "aquaponics" denotes a method of growing produce and “farming” fish in a closed loop system where each is nourished and sustained by the other. The synergistic, completely natural, balanced method combines the best of hydroponic growing (planting in water) with aquatic animal cultivation. Food fish such as tilapia, catfish and trout, as well as many other species, can be grown effectively, depending on system design and climatic conditions. However, any fish will provide the basic nutrients that the plants require, even goldfish or ornamental varieties such as koi.

Even though the science is not new, the popularity of aquaponics with American gardeners is still in its infancy; commercial facilities are being explored as consumer demand increases for fresh, local produce that is free of additives, hormones and pesticides; and local schools and non-profit organizations also have begun to recognize the opportunities and potential benefits of such production systems. Because there are a variety of configurations and materials that may be utilized, aquaponic farming is adaptable for many conditions, and usually the demand for physical space, electricity and water use are much lower than for growing comparable crops in conventional ways.

The Aquaponics Association, headquartered in Denver, was founded to promote the benefits of aquaponic growing, and to act as a central clearing house for information about aquaponically grown food. Organized into geographic regions, the group represents members in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. The Dallas chapter is one of three in Texas; others are in Austin and Houston.

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