Past Event 23-26 April 2018 4 day Commercial Aquaponics


Registration is open for our spring Commercial Aquaponics Course – April 23rd-26th

In an intimate setting in our brand new classroom, a group of aspiring aquaponic farmers will gather in Bristol to learn how to make their dreams a reality. Focusing on YOUR ideas for YOUR farm – this course is designed to take a personal approach to tuition.

Register here

We’ll leave you with the schedule

That follows below –

Kindest regards

The Course:


-To make commercial aquaponics accessible
-To enable participants to overcome specific production issues through access to specific information and expert guidance;
-To enable participants to realise true product value, by taking a systems approach focusing on the entire production cycle and determining the best options for system set up, diversification and sustainability;
-To train entry level practitioners in a holistic manner, in response to current challenges to the socioeconomic sustainability of the aquaculture industry in Europe

Elements of the potential Course Schedule (TBC)

So here is a little more about the course….. nb I have a few more expert witness sessions I’m still arranging so there will hopefully be a few bonus extra bits – things like evening fish filleting session, Q&A with a wholesaler green grocer…


Day 1 –

We start our 4 day intensive with an introduction to this year’s course, plus a tour and a little about our current project Unit 1 Vale Lane.

The next sessions are about starting your journey towards development of your commercial farm venture – we will take time to work on putting together a Business Canvas and a User Journey for your business. Which will help us to figure out where the gaps in your preparations are and where we can centre some of our attention.

And we want to discuss with you some key organising concepts – like – the central question for your projects “what can I strategically do early in my farm planning to make me more free?” Really we’re talking about automation, outsourcing… hydroponics is an example of automating irrigation and drainage…

So it follows that in the afternoon we are joined by Matt the Founder of Seneye and we are on to Sensors, Water Quality, Monitoring – and getting the drudgery of calibration out of the equation.

Evening – plans TBC

Day 2 –

Today we jump straight into compliance – it’s the least inspiring bit – and some of the hardest – so lets swallow this frog early.

We will look at compliance and keeping it all legal – and I’ll introduce you to the templates – which we can work on for YOUR PROJECT over the subsequent days:

Building a Biosecurity Plan – Introduction to the Template

Building a Risk Assessment – Introduction to the Template

Building a Food Safety Management Plan – Introduction to the Template

To help us on our journey we are joined in the Afternoon by Eric Roderick of FishGen who has wide ranging experience as a farmer and researcher and specialism in brood stock and hatchery management – for any of you interested in doing a full life cycle. Eric has taught on all our commercial courses to date and we always run out of time with him!

Evening plans TBC

Day 3

Aquaponics is about holding your system in a fine balance – about finding the right combination of notes to strike a sweet chord 😉 The ins and outs of your ecosystem are where this music happens.

So today we are going to examine opportunities for full system valorisation and look at the stocks and flows of YOUR system. Where can you be adding value? Where can you be finding what you seek within what you have or – what unique skills can you bring to your project. We are looking at that interface between the farm and the farmer and how it is going to translate into real productivity and real sales.

This is also the time to explore numbers and ratios – and the next template we can work on together – developing your production schedule and demand centric approach to production.

We are joined today by Oscar who used to manage GrowUp’s Unit 84 in London.

Evening: We head over to Grow Bristol for a tour of their microgreens growing facility – a must see for those interested in high intensivity under-light growing.

Day 4 –

Morning visit to Arctic Char Farm in Dorset

We use this last day to explore freedom further – both financial freedom in your farm – the question everyone wants the answer to – money, funding, business plans. As well as de-anchoring our work and enabling flexibility.

Primarily we will be sharing our extensive experience in applying for different kinds of funding and how to maximise your chances of success.

We will take a look at our next template – Building a Funding Proposal and will take you through our final business template – the Prioritisation Wheel – for YOUR project.

Then back to our business canvas to see what else we can now fill in.

We close with a final Q&A.

As I said – please let me know what else you want to make sure we cover on the meetup page


Pricing – As usual – because our project’s mission is to make aquaponics accessible; the course is run at close-to-cost and we remain a not-for-profit organisation – so it’s hard for us to make concessions. If you can’t manage the price (£400) though – please get in touch and we can investigate options such a skill swap / group price if you are several people coming from one organisation. We are particularly keen for businesses to sponsor a student – please let us know if your project is able to sponsor a place for a student this year.

NB students from previous years can also attend some of the sessions for a minimum donation of £5. We will keep you all posted with the up-to-date schedule.

Here are a few snippets from previous years… 

unnamedLast year for the first time Dr Rosemary Crichton took us through fish physiology and responses to feeds and discusses the various ingredient options and how we can consider these for making aquaponic feeds.

Rose has a huge interest in how aquaponic feeds can be produced from urban waste streams

kate.jpgIn previous years we’ve heard how 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… Kate is the co-founder of GrowUp Urban Farms. GrowUp Urban Farms produces sustainable fresh fish, salads and herbs in cities using a combination of aquaponic and vertical growing technologies.

unnamed (1)In our final commercial aquaponics class, we are confronting the endgame – and the mental shift from sacrifice to celebration – the aching beauty of preparing carefully that which you have nurtured for the platter…[read more]