About Our Journey So Far
Who We Are . . .
Florida Aqua Fresh Produce will strive to be at the forefront of sustainable urban gardening by adopting the latest Aquaponics technologies and growing methods to provide both high quality food and fish, competitively priced, grown locally and grown naturally. We will aim to maintain reasonable profitability and attempt to raise both community and individual awareness and understanding of modern food sustainability as well as explain and teach the benefits of using Aquaponic systems for and eating clean, healthy and naturally grown food. We will always donate a portion of our profits for assisting in establishing Aquaponics systems that provide sustainable solutions to the world hunger epidemic.
How it all began
In the world of Aquaponics,
I go by the name Sahib Punjabi. This is a reflection of my ancestral motherland. I have a degree in Economics and Accounting and qualified as Chartered Accountant of England & Wales. Having traveled extensively, my wife and I settled in Central Florida in 1989 and consider that our home. My hobbies, other than spending quality time with my family, include cooking, gardening and spirituality. For years I tried to grow food in soil, only to be disappointed and frustrated by the difficulties in keeping a balanced watering routine and by the amount of harmful pesticides and chemical fertilizers needed for a decent harvest. About 12 years ago, I had built a fish pond at my home and would use the fish waste from the filters to feed my tropical plants. Needless to say, I had beautiful and healthy tropical plants such as mangos, leeches and papaya while limited success with my vegetable gardening. There had to be a better way to grow them. I did not want to use the harmful pesticides and chemical fertilizers. So I began to search and think through the whole growing process. I knew that my tropical plants were doing just fine, so what was different other than that they had the occasional strong diet of fish waste whenever I cleaned the Koi pond filters. In December 2009 I searched the web for “fish water plants” and came across something called “Aquaponics”. Well that was a life changing event for me. For the next six months I almost became a hermit and studied whatever I could find on Aquaponics. This research included reading all about UVI systems and training, Nelson & Pade’s articles and newsletters, Joel Malcolm systems, magazines and blog where I discovered excellent insight from TCLynx’s discussions. Murray Hallam’s you tube postings and his videos were very informative as were articles on “Barrel-Ponics” by Travis W. Hughey. I also read numerous articles on Aquaculture, Hydroponics, Permaculture and Vermicomposting as well as researched numerous methods of growing food, the media being used as well as the grow containers. I was really impressed by the Friendly Aquaponics system, its simplicity and ease of use and the focus on being able to produce vegetables & fruit far in excess of the quantity of fish. Given the fact that they had managed to obtain USDA Organic Certification and were already supplying Costco with their organic lettuce, I decided that this would be the foundation of any system that I build and ordered their Micro Systems Manual. I also started experimenting with some media based grow beds, building bell siphons and researching timers and index valves. Somehow, being a maverick, I was not satisfied at just operating the Aquaponics systems as separate units. I wanted to maximize the growing possibilities and started to mix the various systems, adding NFT’s and verticals as well as designing recirculating media wicking beds. I also started using some fish effluent rich Aquaponics water for my non-recirculating coir based raised strawberry beds. The results were just mind blowing. This was the start of Sahib’s Aquaponics Research Farm. I started to share my little knowledge with anyone who would listen (Aquaponics has that crazy effect on you), and had numerous farm visitors who always left with fresh locally grown naturally food. I was totally humbled when the India Ambassador to USA, Mrs. Meera Shankar and her delegation visited my small Aquaponics farm. I started taking a few pictures and film of my Aquaponics Research farm and posted a short video on You Tube. That video had so many views and I received numerous requests to teach my methods. I was called the Aquaponics Urban Guru by some but I still felt that I only knew a fraction of the knowledge. I had to learn more, understand it and share that in simple layman terms. I was passionate in advocating the holding of an International Aquaponics Conference right here in Orlando, bringing together as many of the Aquaponics Gurus as possible and also establishing an Aquaponics Association to forward the knowledge, research and awareness of Aquaponics. I spent considerable time in helping make this a reality. It was, and is, important to me that the consumer is aware of the value of produce that is grown by such methods and that is labeled as “Aquaponics Produce” or “Aquaponicaly Grown”. Well the Aquaponics Conference was held in September 2011 here in Orlando and an Aquaponics Association was established. I was once again humbled at getting to meet the various Aquaponics Gurus such as Tim Mann & Susuanne Friend of Friendly Aquaponics and Murray Hallam of Practical Aquaponics, from whom I had learned my initial Aquaponics education. Only upon receiving the blessings of these Gurus, I am taking the next step in sharing this Aquaponics education. What I will be teaching and sharing about Aquaponics is nothing new, however Sahib’s way of incorporating the various Aquaponics systems is. Here is what Susanne Friend shared with me about her describing my Aquaponics systems in one conversation: “We’ve seen his system, and it is the most amazing hybrid system, with deep-water raft culture (like ours), media bed, vertical towers, and NFT. Combining it all with plants in the ground, water with AP water, he has five (!) different types of aquaponics going, in what is the most complex system I have ever seen – and it works! And he makes it easy to understand!” Well, this is where we hopefully, with your help, be able to live up to our