May 17, 2013 – Farmers and individuals seeking to diversify crop production are looking at aquaponics. To assist individuals interested in using this growing method, experts in the fields of aquaculture and marketing provided information at an “Introduction to Aquaponics” workshop May 2. The event, held at Fort Valley State University’s Agricultural Technology Conference Center, is sponsored by the Georgia Center for Aquaculture Development (GCAD), part of FVSU’s Cooperative Extension Program. Aquaponics is a system where plants and fish are grown together in water without the use of soil. Fish waste provides nutrients for the plants while the plants help filter the water, which benefits the fish. Approximately 55 conference attendees spent the afternoon listening to presentations by Happy Wyatt, manager of the Macon Farmers Market and Dr. Pat Duncan, director of the GCAD at FVSU. “Our workshops are designed to educate people on growing herbs, vegetables and raising fish usingaquaponics,” Duncan said. She said this allows people to have two forms of cash flow on a year-round basis. Duncan said aquaponics is growing in popularity, because one does not need a lot of space, land or money to start an operation. She said that urban residents like aquaponic set-ups because limited spaces such as garages or warehouses can be used, and farmers like aquaponics because it gives them an inexpensive avenue to diversify ways of earning income. In addition, participants received a first-hand look at aquaponic systems by touring the aquaculture greenhouse at FVSU. FranklinAkinsipe, a retired engineer who lives in Atlanta, has plans to take the information he learned at the workshop back to his native country of Nigeria. He said he is returning to help feed his people. “I learned to culture plants with fish, and make money both ways,” said Akinsipe. “If people want to learn about fish and plants, they need to come to Fort Valley.” For more information about aquaponics, contact Duncan at (478) 825-6335, (478) 283-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.