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Weekend programs attract aquaponic gardeners

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Even if fish is not your favorite entree, fish may be in your future in a big way. The emerging science of Aquaponics utilizes fish in a closed-loop growing system in order to produce salad greens, vegetables, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, fruits and even flowers in a completely natural manner, without planting them in soil. The aquatic environment is, in effect, a marriage of hydroponics (soil-less growing of plants in water) and aquaculture, or fish farming.

Aquaponics is in the news in Dallas and all over the country.

Two seminars open to local residents interested in learning more about the field and its possibilities for backyard gardening were held in Dallas Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 4 and 5. The first, a Saturday "gathering" of the Dallas Chapter of the national Aquaponics Association, attracted about 40 people interested in meeting other enthusiasts and trading ideas about their "fish and food farming" endeavors. Held at the Garland seminar facility operated by Green Phoenix Farms, the four-hour informal information exchange, held the first Saturday of each month, is free and open to anyone interested in Aquaponics, according to Dave Cohen, local chapter organizer and current president. For additional information about upcoming programs or the national association, contact Cohen here.

The second event was held Sunday, from 2 to 4 p.m. in Carrollton. Jay Lamb, who founded the Aquaponics for Food Meet-up group in October 2013, presented a program on introduction to aquaponics and vermaponic gardening (which utilizes worms), and led participants on a tour of different systems at his home. Lamb noted that he became interested in aquaponics, enough to complete a training course in Virginia prior to installing a system in his home.

Aquaponics has joined other innovative gardening methods such as hydroponics, aeroponics and vertical gardening as the hope of the future, a way of supplying food for the world's increasing population in a sustainable way, and a method of producing local food in areas where traditional agriculture is inefficient or non-existent.

Other aquaponics Meetup groups in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex include DFW Aquaponics, Aquaponic Fun, and The North Texas Aquaponics Meetup Group. Several programs are available each month through these groups and other seminars and hands-on workshops are also available periodically.

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