Aquapalooza Weekend Part 1: The Dinner with the Aquaponics Community

What a wonderful few days these have been. Right now as I’m writing this blog post I think my mentor, Murray Hallam, is down the hall writing one as well. Wild.

So much has happened that I’m going to describe it as best as I can over 3 posts – The Dinner with the Aquaponics Community, The Murray Hallam Aquaponics Workshop the next day, and Hanging out With Murray Hallam for a couple of days after the workshop was over. Hopefully you will stay with me through all three.

Flat Stanley

Flat Stanley

From the first days I spent planning Murray Hallam’s visit from Australia to the U.S., I knew I wanted to use the trip as an excuse to meet members of AquaponicsCommunity.com in person. The cyber nature of a modern day community is a funny thing. You form impressions of people through their nicknames (Mr. Cool, Dano), their avatar, and their on-line interactive style. I did not want to miss the opportunity to attach other attributes to even a few of these people I figured I would be able to add new dimensions to my mind’s interpretation of who they are, like inflating a Flat Stanley doll to add a 3rd dimension to a piece of paper.

Several community members from both inside Colorado and out of state were gathering for the workshop so the night before the Workshop, we hosted a Wine and Greenhouse pre-Party at our home, followed by a group dinner at a local restaurant. We had quite a crowd for the greenhouse tour; fewer for dinner, but it was all a delightful start to my 3 day Aquapalooza odyssey.

The people in this group had never met each other or their hosts before the evening began.

Dinner with Aquaponics Community Group

Jon (2nd from left), me in the orange, Dano (standing), Mr. Cool (far right)

They were bound only by their common interest in growing plants with fish. And yes, we all became instant comrades. Each expressed their new (to me), real-world personas. For example, Dano lives about an hour away and has an intense, slightly wild air about him. He takes great pride in rescuing animals, has been gardening in his basement with hydroponics for many years and converted to aquaponics initially to save money on nutrients. Jon from Atlanta is a striking contrast to Dano. I read him more as a gentleman weekend farmer who wants to stretch his hobby through the winter by adding a beautiful glass greenhouse to his already beautiful property (see The Expensive Tomato to learn more about Jon’s setup). Mr. Cool was, well, pretty cool.

The evening was filled with delightful aqua-geek conversations that started with “so, do any of you use a bell siphon?” or “I can’t decide if I’m going to cycle with or without fish”. It felt natural, and yet unreal, as the topics that occupy my largely cyber workdays in online forums, aquaponics research, and selling aquaponics products converged with the generally aquaponics-free life that I live in the physical space of my Boulder life. Perhaps this is a peek into the future when the word ‘aquaponics‘ is as well known as the words ‘hydroponics’ and ‘aquaculture’ and it is as commonplace to be growing fish in your backyard as tomatoes. Until then, I will look forward to doing this again someday, and dream of the day when I can even get used to it!

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