Contributed by Guest Blogger Rick Sellano

We sometimes say a person “either lives to eat or eats to live,” suggesting that our relationship with food requires a tradeoff.  The terrific nature of aquaponics is that producing nourishment can have its roots in synergy and efficiency. To learn more, attend the aquaponics education class at Morris Arboretum on April 22. We’re looking forward to meeting Nicholas Renner that day and hearing him explore the topic. Renner is one of the leading and local experts on aquaponics. As founder of Integrated Symbiotics, a sustainable engineering company focused on agricultural technology, Renner works to promote awareness, education and businesses that solve environmental problems.

The origins of aquaponics are rich with history and date back to the Aztec culture and groups in ancient South China, Thailand and Indonesia. The methodology combines aquaculture (raising freshwater fish) with hydroponics (soilless agriculture) in one symbiotic environment. This is a fascinating and effective form of agriculture that can be used in otherwise nonproductive areas. Moreover, it saves 90% more water than conventional gardening does. These systems work by recirculating fish waste through grow bed systems, with bacteria converting fish waste into nitrates, which the plants use to grow. Clean water is then recirculated back to the aquaculture system.

There’s no doubt that the shape of food production is changing. Some say it should change more quickly. With sustainability, nutrition and the environment, there’s no end to potential discussion and debate. Growing food can be challenging. Still, it's rewarding—even on the smallest scale.

If we take seriously the idea that “we are what we eat,” we can never know too much about food. Renner believes that “the power of food should be transferred from large corporations to the consumer.” He strongly feels that “reducing steps in the supply chain would not only save energy resources but also produce a smarter consumer who holds knowledge of what they are consuming.”

The good news is that food-to-table awareness is gaining traction, owing to a heightened interest in table fare and preparing it. As for aquaponics, the synergy inherent in the system lets its users conserve resources while creating nourishment. In other words, it allows us to have our cake and eat it too.

Please attend! Register now.