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Honokaa couple share aquaponics knowledge

Updated: 
September 1, 2014 - 12:05am

A Hawaii Island couple is teaching farmers across the country to save water and energy using aquaponics to grow vegetables.

Friendly Aquaponics of Hawaii is partnering with Aqua Harvest Greens to offer training in aquaponics Sept. 15 to 19 in San Jose, Calif. New and experienced farmers will learn to grow food with a method nearly immune to drought.

Susanne Friend and Tim Mann started the Friendly Aquaponics farm in 2007 in Honokaa. After their first successful year, they decided to share what they’d learned about commercial aquaponic food production. Eighty-two people attended the first “Friendly” course in October 2008; since then, 672 additional students have attended their courses. Many have started profitable U.S. Department of Agriculture Organically Certified aquaponics farms.

Aquaponics only uses 2 to 5 percent of the water required by conventional soil farming. Another benefit is that the energy required for aquaponics is only 25 to 40 percent of what is required for conventional farming, and all energy used is electrical rather than petrochemical-based, making it more sustainable.

The training emphasizes energy-efficient greenhouse food production, with a day devoted to greenhouse design, construction and operation for climates from Florida to Wisconsin. The training includes construction and operating manuals for greenhouses and aquaponics systems. Friendly Aquaponics offers unlimited, lifetime technical support for all participants at no additional charge.

Go to friendlyaquaponics.com/california-training for more information.