Eastern to offer Oklahoma’s first Aquaponic certificate class in July


Eastern students Kathy White (left) and Shelly Joiner work in the Aquaponics beds in the college’s greenhouse.
WILBURTON, OK (June 30, 2014) – Eastern Oklahoma State College will host the first aquaponic certificate class in the state of Oklahoma this summer. The one-day class, which is open to the public, will be presented by Eastern faculty and Symbiotic Aquaponic, a nationally-recognized company.

The course will take place Saturday, July 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Eastern’s Greenhouse in Wilburton. The cost for the program is $125 or $99 if participants register by July 10.  

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.

Eastern has experienced an increase in public interest since installing an aquaponic system in its greenhouse. 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 the company’s patent-pending aquaponic systems use approximately 1/95th of the water of traditional agriculture. The system’s reduced water usage, increased crop yields and expanded growing season have created a growing interest in aquaponics in the region.  

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

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

“We’re excited to bring aquaponics to Oklahoma,” Smallwood 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.”  

Registration for the course will be open through July 23. Online registration and payment is available at www.symbioticaquaponic.com.

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