ATLANTA – Demand for local food today is increasing and there are many ideas about the future of agriculture and technologies for growing. Aquaponics is one of several in discussion by growers, governments and investors, based on its many value points – offering a complete diet, very low water use and organic compatibility. Atlanta’s Aquaplanet is bringing this global discussion to Georgia in late October with a series of events featuring a new team which represents a cross-section of aquatic systems technologies and how they can be harnessed for economic development on a local level. AquaponicsVIP (Very Important Plants) is a series of events starting the weekend of October 21 at the Serenbe community in south Fulton County, followed by a 4-day Master Class in Clarkston by Australia’s aquaponics master Murray Hallam. www.aquaponicsvip.com He is supported by his protégé, Arvind Venkataraman, whose Waterfarmers commercial model has taken the for-profit aquaponics method to new levels in several nations across the globe.
The team’s focus expands beyond the technology to include community development, jobs and education is based on a model established in Oregon called the Ingenuity Innovation Center. Partner Kate Wildrick founded the center as a community-based training center for aquaponics and have expanded it to include other technologies and programs such as finance, energy systems and tiny houses.
A key theme of the events will be collaboration. According to Aquaplanet’s Bevan Suits, “We want to expand the conversation beyond ‘the method’ to ‘the outcome’. What is needed are jobs, education, nutrition, food security. We want to add in appropriate technology of all types.”
Aquaplanet has been working with the Andrew J. Young Foundation this past year bringing aquaponics and duckweed to the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, a historically black organization representing about 22,000 families across the southeast. The firm is launching a new book, Classroom Aquaponics, An Entry Level Guide For Science Teachers and is being tested with STEM programs in Dekalb county to serve as a focal point with Georgia Tech’s Serve Learn Sustain program.
The four partners are also announcing the addition of a CEO who has signed on to make the enterprise a proper business. JD Messinger of Houston has taken on the role to help encapsulate the various assets and value points the team has to offer. Messinger is widely regarded as an exceptional leader for his varied career achievements. Starting off as a fireman, he graduated as one of 37 distinguished graduates of the US Naval Academy served as a nuclear submarine officer during the Cold War. He was nominated as CNBC’s Asian CEO of the Year.
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