Closing the system (loop)

A recent article in the Guardian reports on the start-ups that may be defining the future of agri-tech from the Nobel week dialogue in Stockholm. Luckily for us Caleb Harper, director of Open Agriculture at the MIT was there to point to how sensor-controlled systems are part of the answer. “We are slaves to climate in agriculture. But what if we could give every country access to good weather?” he said.
It reminds us of when Bristol Fish Project was picked up on by Tree Hugger many moons ago (2012) justifying aquaponics thus: “The increased control that closed farming systems give us can protect crops from blight, rain damage, frosts, drought. This complex and unpredictable future poses new challenges to agriculture that highlight the importance of developing systems like RAS and aquaponics. Aquaponics permits the farmer to be more efficient with water, to control light-levels, heat, and nutrition, and to protect crops from the elements“.


Top tips for cheap eats

First up make sure it’s a balanced meal – the NHS has published a really useful Eatwell Guide!

SO!  Top-tips for family food on the cheap!

  • Buy frozen  – carrots, sweetcorn, spinach, broccoli and peas for all your stews and curries – these tend to be a lot cheaper than fresh veg. Plus frozen fruit can be massively cheaper than fresh versions. If you are savvy you’ll freeze your own!
  • Learn to store fruit and veg properly – here’s a really useful chart!
  • Buy tinned or boxed – tomatoes, kidney beans, chick peas, sweetcorn, pineapple and keep them back for emergencies
  • Buy dried – chillies, mushrooms, dates, raisins,
  • Replace ‘posh’ items with cheaper counterparts – want to impress with your homemade pesto (a meal the kids will eat right!) – cheddar, kale and walnuts are a cheap alternative to parmesan, basil and pinenuts.
  • Cook in bulk and freeze it – that helps with feeling like you are eating the same food everyday – cook something different next time and portion it up for the freezer
  • Get involved with them yellow sticker goods

Bristol School of Night First supper club

So lovely to have the first ever Bristol School of Night supper club meeting.

A few hundred years ago, ‘thinkers and creatives’ were oppressed in order to inhibit progress in favor of control, power and in order to privilege the few. Back then Sir Walter Raleigh gathered his friends into a secret group that became nicknamed the School of Night that pressed ahead with advancing knowledge in society and bringing about change in favour of the well-being of wider humanity.

We wanted to gather our network of peoples – their skills and energies – so that we can be proactive and invested in bringing about optimism and hopefulness in our cities, and a vision for future society that moves away from reactive and fear-based change through instigation of real projects and endeavors.

We started by setting up a big banqueting table (we can seat and have crockery for about 30 people here), sharing food and ideas for projects and seeing what happens from there.

Themes touched on were community resilience, noomap, blockchain, social enterprise as an engine, income deprivation and poor quality social housing, opportunities for new builds,  integration of refugees and asylum seekers…

And reflected that we cant use our old modes of thinking – and we are excited to develop our collaborative innovation skills as a group!


Get in touch if you want to join us next time 🙂



Crowdfunding – *Sharing an AHA moment alert*

We’ve been a participant in a collaborative crowdfunder of late – in order to raise money for a food-producers sort-of-guild that supports local producers in our area – and on who’s services we draw (they share a super useful newsletter and we want Bristol Fish Project to be part of their education programme in future).

What this collaboration meant was that we were able to offer value (rewards) where we don’t necessarily have budget to give money directly to Bristol Food Producers – , and that this was ‘turned into’ money through the crowdfunder.

So far 5 people have put in for tea and cake and a tour of our Premises at Bristol Fish Project – for 2 people – (£15) well worth it!

Which means we have been able to donate in effect that £75 to Bristol Food Producers that we otherwise wouldn’t have given them.

I’m feeling my brain is quite occupied now with thinking about what this means and how I can learn from it. I hope too that Bristol Food Producers can learn from this – at least that little businesses have other things to exchange than money… but how to unleash the power of those?

We’re so glad that Bristol Food Producers has made their basic level crowdfunding! You can still support them – for the remaining 2 days of their crowdfunder.

And you can still grab yourself a tour of the project!

Food Adventures with the People’s Kitchen in Hartcliffe – Nov&Dec

  • Cooking classes for parents of young children: Would you like to learn about cooking healthy and low cost family food? Mondays 10am–12noon starting 3 October. Some funded creche places available for children over 22 months old.
  • Cooking on a Budget: Tired of eating the same food each week? Do you want to throw away less food? Would you like to make your food budget go further?  Mondays 1–3pm.
  • Cooking for parents of pre-school or primary school children: Quick & easy meal ideas · Ideas for healthy packed lunches · Easy ways to 5-a-day · Helpful tips for ‘fussy’ eaters · Saving money on the weekly shop. Tuesdays 9.30am–11.30am starting 15 November. Some funded creche places available, please ask for more details.
  • Lunch & More: Cooking and eating together – good food with good company! Each week you will be able to help to prepare and share in a delicious lunch with good company · Find out more about what’s going on in your neighbourhood, hear from speakers on topics of interest. Wednesdays 10.15am–2pm.
  • Good Foods for Good Moods: How your diet can support you mental health. Thursdays 1–3pm starting 10 November.
  • Cooking Connections: Building skills in the kitchen. Create healthy and nutritious food from scratch · Gain practical, safe cookery experience · Increase your confidence in a working environment · Have the opportunity to gain a new qualification · Eat what you make and meet new people. Fridays 10am–1pm. Some funded creche places available, please ask for more details.
  • Pizza-making workshop: For parents of pre-school and primary school-aged children. Make two 8″ pizzas to take home · Find out more about our weekly cooking groups for parents. One-off course: 9.30–11.30am Tuesday 1 November. £2
These are small group cookery sessions taught in our purpose built community cooking room, No. 10 The People’s Kitchen, at The Gatehouse Centre, Hartcliffe.
Courses cost £2 per session (take home what you make/eat in group).
Our courses prioritise those in the Dundry View Neighbourhood partnership area (BS13/14).
We are also able to arrange bespoke courses for local groups and organisations.
To book a place on any of these courses or discuss options, please phone Alex or Caroline on 0117 946 5285.

A Good Death?

Today the aquaponics class of 2016 takes to our local fishmonger’s the wonderful wonderful Fish Shop on Gloucester Road.

In what is usually our final commercial aquaponics class, we are confronting the endgame – the act of killing for food and after it, the mental shift from sacrifice to celebration – the aching beauty of preparing carefully that which you have nurtured for the platter.

This time Fishmonger and Business owner Dan is taking us through a variety of techniques for filleting fish – whilst explaining what he needs from product, what his customers are looking for, and the crucial question of course of for how much? – All this so that our students can begin to think ‘beyond the farm’ as an essential part of commercial  aquaponics training.

Concurrent to this in Cardiff on October 13th Dr Anne Galloway (visiting from Victoria University, NZ) will be asking us the question “What is a Good Death?” and examines the practices of on farm killing and the people involved in providing ‘care’ at the end of the road.

Estimates are around 80 Billion individual fish kills annually from farmed fish – however no one really knows just how many fish are killed every year – nor what proportion of that goes to waste. As Anne observes for livestock in general – The relative invisibility of farm animal death points to culture in conflict; Vialles (1994) has argued that consumers demand meat production “must be non-violent (ideally: painless); and it must be invisible (ideally: non-existent).”

As our first commercial tanks arrived on site last weekend, our art of nurturing begins to be defined. What was merely potential – and thus momentarily infinite, is suddenly bounded by our solid reality. Square tanks, shallow, 6 meters long, over a meter wide and 4 of them. What I can say is this – At Bristol Fish Project – like Anne’s research, we are in the midsts of the work of “staying with the trouble [of] living and dying together” (Haraway 2010).


18th August – Funding projects and writing proposals – With Kate Hofman,

Raising the funding for an aquaponics project, regardless of the size, is hard work and takes time. But it can pay off if it means you can start your project! Kate Hofman  of GrowUp Urban Farms will be sharing her experiences for applying for different kinds of funding and how to maximise your chances of success – from writing proposals to how to run a successful crowd-funding campaign.


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Anguilla Anguilla: The European Eel

Last week we took stock of our first batch of European Eels (Anguilla anguilla). 601 of tiny glass eels set up home in an IBC on our site in Bristol.

We are extremely excited to have these fascinating and endangered creatures on site.

The European Eel is a type of catadromous fish, which means that they travel from freshwater to the sea to spawn. Though, to this date no spawning adults nor eggs of Anguilla Anguilla have ever been witnessed in the wild.

In 2009 scientists tracked 22 eels and uncovered the long held secrets of the great eel migration which you can find out about here:

this fascinating creature is unfortunately classified as CRITICALLY ENDANGERED and is facing a very high risk of EXTINCTION in the wild. It is a great shame for to lose any species from our global biosphere and that is why we, Bristol Fish Project are committed to preventing the European Eel extinction. More than 60% of the eels we grow on will be released into the wild to help restock our native population.

If you would like to contact us regarding our project please email:

Sunday 12th June: Half Day Aquaponics Course



June 12th – 12 till 3 – Phoenix Cafe – All Saints Street, Bristol – £10

As part of Bristol’s Big Green Week, this 1/2 day beginner’s course will give you a good basic understanding of aquaponics. You will learn about the key principles of aquaponic farming and the essentials you need to get growing healthy food sustainably, for your home, school or community.

The session will involve hands-on with a small scale functioning aquaponic system designed for the phoenix cafe.

Buffet Lunch from Phoenix Cafe is included in the price

Limited availability – Please email to register.


June 12th – 12 till 3 – Phoenix Cafe – All Saints Street, Bristol – £10

Source: Aquaponics Grow Your Own!