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February Aquaponic certificate course open to the public

1/21/2015

WILBURTON, OK (Jan. 21, 2015) – Those interested in learning about sustainable agriculture are encouraged to participate in a one-day aquaponic certificate course on Saturday, Feb. 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Eastern Oklahoma State College’s Greenhouse in Wilburton. The class will be presented by Eastern faculty in conjunction with Symbiotic Aquaponic, a nationally-recognized company.

Since installing an aquaponic system in its greenhouse, Eastern has experienced an increase in public interest in the sustainable agriculture technique. Aquaponic agriculture is an innovative method of growing all-natural produce and fish using a re-circulating water system. Using this approach, water from the fish habitat provides all the necessary nutrients for growing a variety of plants such as cherry tomatoes, leafy greens, herbs, strawberries and even flowers. As a result, the plants clean the water for the fish.

“Aquaponics is especially valuable in places like Oklahoma where drought and water-shortages are constant concerns,” said Kaben Smallwood, Symbiotic Aquaponic CEO and co-owner.

Smallwood said their patent-pending aquaponic systems use approximately 1/95th of the water of traditional agriculture. The reduced water usage, increased crop yields and expanded growing season has resulted in a growing interest in aquaponics in the region.

“Aquaponics can be done at home by the hobbyist home-gardner or on an even larger commercial scale by skilled farmers,” Smallwood said. “However, it does require knowing what you’re doing and some understanding to do it right.”

Based on the interest in aquaponics and the need for continuing education, Smallwood and EOSC are cooperating to provide the first one-day, aquaponic certificate courses in Oklahoma. The course will provide an introduction to aquaponic topics such as system designs, scientific principles of aquaponics and the selection of plant and fish species. Participants will engage in classroom discussions and hands-on experience in Eastern’s Greenhouse. All course materials will be provided on the day of the class. Participants will also sample produce from the aquaponic greenhouse for lunch.

Smallwood said the class is a good start towards positive, social changes in Oklahoma.

“We’re excited to bring aquaponics to Oklahoma,” he said. “There’s a real need for sustainable agriculture and access to nutritious foods to address Oklahoma’s issues such as water shortages, food deserts and diabetes. I think people realize that and that’s part of why they’re interested.”

The cost for the program is $129 and includes materials, refreshments and a light lunch. Special group rates are available for groups of four or more. Online registration and payment is available at www.symbioticaquaponic.com.

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