Hope your holidays were safe, wonderful and filled with abundance of sharing time with friends and family.
We enjoyed a Sawyer sort of Christmas with our three kids at Flourish Farms, harvesting our hydrid striped bass which weighted in at a whopping 2.4lbs a piece. Fish and greens went out to the neighborhood community, deliveries to our wonderful chefs, and we took some home for Christmas Eve dinner. The twins (6 years old), were very excited to gut and clean the bass, and did a really great job. They said they liked it better than last year when we made Christmas cookies. Funny how aquaponics fits into every moment of our lives.
So now it’s the New Year, and with it comes the typical nostalgic reflection and the good intentions of goal setting and focused follow through. Eating healthier, exercise, being more patience and peaceful.
2015 In Reflection
2015 has been a whirlwind. Here was some of the greatest highlights.
- Having hundreds of people attend our Aquaponics workshops at Flourish Farms @ The GrowHaus in Denver, Central Rocky Mountain Permiculture Institute in Basalt, Colorado Mountain College in Rifle, and Not Forgotten Outreach in Taos NM.
- Empowering many future farmers with knowledge to take their hobby to the next level through The Aquaponic Farming Course in Florida, Colorado and California.
- Increasing profitability at Flourish Farms @ The GrowHaus, with some new crop rotations, proper species selections, a fantastic farm manager and great relationships with our community and chefs.
- Meeting our mission of donating 10% of our farm profit in food to our local community, along with providing free tours, youth training and speaking engagements to help empower, encourage and support a broader audience that might not otherwise get involved in urban farming or healthy food initiatives.
- Working with a dedicated and passionate group of team members, that help keep everything operating and generating new opportunities in this growing industry.
- Acting as an advisor in drafting the Certified Naturally Grown Aquaponic Guidelines
- Traveling around the western US with our family through Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California and New Mexico. We all enjoyed visiting different farms, Earthship NM, The Taos Pueblo, camping and hiking in National Parks, and the beach, while experiencing a lot of different cultural, environmental and just plain fun activities intertwined with our work life. A big part of why we started this business was to feed our family more nutritious food, but we are excited to also be feeding their minds with new experiences.
- Receiving the Denver Mayors Certificate of Environmental Excellence
- And the grand finale of the year, was of course, the acquisition of The Aquaponic Source in October. It has been a very busy transition, but is starting to smooth out and sail straight.
So all in all, a really abundant year.
2016 Focus Points – People, Products, Projects and Prosperity
New Year’s Day started at the farm, while the kids played with the bunnies and fed the fish, I cleaned out the filter tanks, and an idea for 2016 came into focus for me. (I know it’s a bit strange but cleaning the filter tanks is always a good opportunity to do some strategic planning while up to my elbows in fish water). I considered what it means to balance three businesses and three kids and came to determine some focus points for 2016.
In aquaponics, as in every aspect of life, relationships and the people we connect with have always been the most important bridge to building knowledge, capabilities, customers, and support. So for 2016 our team is focused on reaching out to people, better understanding their needs and doing the best job possible to help fulfill them. We want to empower more people by providing the best education, customer service, and products possible and focus on projects which get people engaged in growing their own food. No matter how amazing, sophisticated and well-functioning an aquaponic system is, it is up to people to keep it operating and make it successful, as well as enjoy all that it produces.
Every day it seems there is a new aquaponic product or business startup. It is a very exciting time for this industry. The Aquaponic Source plans to stand behind its name with a wide product selection, new product offerings, more educational opportunities, and improvements based on years of R&D and trial and error. Everyday your voice is heard, and whenever we get feedback that directions were hard to follow, or a part was missing, we work to make improvements. Our team has built and operates aquaponic systems both on a home scale and farm scale so we all “get” the customer experience. Our goal this year is to ensure quality and value in our products, make the customer experience simple and pleasant and to be The Source that you can trust when making your purchase.
We are excited to start the year off with a number of really fantastic projects. The 5,400 sq ft greenhouse is being installed at the new Mental Health Center of Denver campus, and in early February our team will install a state of the art aquaponics system and we are excited to document every step of this project and share it with you all. We also have ongoing projects such as revamping the website, developing a new marketing program, more curriculum writing and getting certified as a B-Corp (Benefit Corporation).
We are looking forward to an abundant year of interacting with others, and getting systems out to more people in their homes, schools and communities. We want everyone to experience the true excitement and abundant learning opportunities that come from growing your own food. Knowing how to grow your own food makes us all more resilient, more knowledgeable and more capable of feeding a growing population. Some might consider prosperity from the perspective of dollars (and that is very valid), but we think of it much more from the perspective of greater nutrition, meaningful work, community interaction, environmental stewardship, family connections, improved health, personal fulfillment and ultimately “wholelife wealth”. I hope everyone can see their true wealth this year with this perspective, and enjoy immense prosperity.
Tawnya and JD Sawyer