Last winter, several of us had a conversation in the Aquaponic Gardening Community about the need for a unifying aquaponics organization, along with an excuse to gather together, face-to-face, and form this organization in person. This online conversation spawned a series of Skype calls with me and a few others to explore the possibility of actually making this wishful thinking into a reality. Those Skype calls eventually included only two of us, Gina Cavaliero of Green Acre Organics and me, and we are now sponsoring this venture with our two companies. Just two parties have allowed us to stay lean, fast and nimble enough to pull this off in the little time and scarce resources that we have!

Planning is well underway with much already accomplished. First, we secured two incredible keynote speakers that we feel are among the biggest names in their respective markets. In commercial aquaponics we have Susanne Friend and in home-based aquaponics we have Murray Hallam. Next, we decided on a location. Florida seemed like a great choice for this first conference (hopefully it will become an annual event) because there is so much aquaponics activity there. Plus, Susanne Friend and Tim Mann of Friendly Aquaponics already had a trip planned to Green Acres in September to teach a commercial training class. Not only does this insure that they will already be in Florida and available, but it also makes it very convenient for conference participants who want to take the Friendly Aquaponics / Green Acre Organics commercial training class. They can just extend their stay in Florida.

Before we went any further we wanted to see how many aquapons might be interested in attending a conference in Orlando in September. We sent out a survey, and the response was incredible! The survey indicated that we could count on between 150 and 200 attendees. Based on early registration, it looks to us like we will hit the maximum of 200 attendees and this conference will sell out!

With the encouraging survey information in, we started working on the Association website with awesome volunteer web programmer, James Fry of Marketing For Good. At the same time fabulous volunteer graphic designer, Kim Leszczynksi of The Design Connection created the event logo. We quickly assembled a group of incredible speakers (check it out http://auaponicsassociation.org/2011-conference/schedule/), created an exciting program for sponsors, and signed the contract with the hotel. On June 17 we launched the Aquaponics Association Facebook page, and on June 18 we launched the Aquaponics Association website.

We have had almost thirty people sign up in the past two weeks. That’s pretty incredible given how far away the event still is. If you are considering joining us, and I sure hope you are, don’t wait until the last minute to sign up! Not only are prices going up on August 1, but we will close registration at 200 attendees.

Click here to learn more about this ‘don’t miss’ event! See you there.